No. 10 Sports Story of the Year: A tennis tournament\'s decline

12/23/2014 12:00 PM |
Tournament director Jim Christy presenting a scholarship to Molly Kowalski before the women's singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Tournament director Jim Christy presenting a scholarship to Molly Kowalski before the women’s singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

A longtime summer staple on the North Fork, the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament, played its last match. After 36 years, the plug was pulled on the tournament by its sponsor, Times/Review Newsgroup, in light of declining player entries.

Troy Gustavson, former co-publisher of the newspaper company who was instrumental in launching the tournament in 1978, announced its demise “with profound regret” in his column in the company’s newspapers, writing that “time and the grayification (that’s not a real word, is it?) of our community have finally taken their toll.”

In recent years the tournament dropped women’s doubles due to a lack of interest. This year’s tournament had 42 entries: 12 in men’s singles, five in women’s singles, four in men’s doubles, 10 in mixed doubles, seven in men’s 50-plus singles and four in men’s 50-plus doubles. But even those numbers are misleading because some players played in more than one division.

“We were having double that amount years ago,” said Jim Christy, the tournament director.
From its modest beginning as the Orient Tennis Tournament on clay courts in Orient off scenic Long Island Sound, the tournament grew, showcasing standouts like Dahlia Ferrando-Aman, Chris Ujkic and Steve Paskiewicz.

Not all is gloom and doom, though. Christy remained hopeful that the tournament could be reincarnated in a different form. He said, “Whenever one door closes, another door opens.”

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