After starting with a field of 99 participants, only eight champions were left standing after four days of the sixth annual L1 Challenger United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournament held at North Shore Towers. According to Annelies Karp, tournament director for the past 24 years and resident of North Shore Towers, the weather, courts and athletes cooperated with what turned out to be a very successful tournament.
Four boys and girls divisions ranging from 12, 14, 16 and 18-year-olds battled it out between the lines in hopes of taking home a championship trophy. For Keegan Morris, 12, playing in the 14-year-old division, his road to victory was all heart. After dropping the first set in the semi-finals against Daniel Rosenblatt, 3-6, he fought his way to the finals winning 6-3, 6-3.
“The key is to stay calm and be intense,” said Morris.
Once in the finals, he continued his trend of dropping the first set, 3-6, against the speedy Christian Gloria, ranked third in his division. Morris regrouped and took home the 14-year-old singles title after winning the final two sets, 6-1, 6-0.
“I’m glad that I can withstand the power from my opponents. It feels really good right now,” said Morris.
The other boy’s champions included Ronald Hohmann in the 12-year-old division, Jeremy Dubin in the 16-year-old division and Kevin Katz who defeated Jacob Huber in the finals of the 18-year-old division. Huber, a massive underdog to second-ranked Katz, fought for every volley and did not give Katz any easy points. Katz ultimately prevailed and also took home the tournaments Sportsmanship Award.
The girl’s division also had their share of drama as first-ranked Alison Wang took on third-ranked Zenat Rashidzada in the 16-year-old final. The back and forth match up was tiring to watch as the girls made some ridiculous returns on both ends of the court. Wang took the match over late in each set and closed out Rashidzada 6-4, 6-3 securing her title.
“It feels great right now since I lost in the finals last year,” said Wang. “It was a fun match.”
Other champions included Andrea Cerdan who won the 12-year-old division in straight sets, Madison Appel in the 14-year-old division and Samantha Tutelman, who only lost two games the entire tournament to lock her 18-year-old division victory.