(Courtesy of Our Place) From the moment the first player checked in until the breathless final seconds of the very last set, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was the place to be on Sunday, May 26, as the inaugural Cross River Open gave members of the New York area’s Jewish community the opportunity to play high-level, competitive tennis at the home of the U.S. Open.
Over 130 players competed in the historic event, which offered completely separate matches for men and women and raised money for Our Place, which has been helping troubled teens and young adults for the past 21 years. The full days’ worth of tennis included round robin play, followed by elimination playoff matches, culminating in championship games, with four separate tournaments for men’s and women’s singles and doubles. More than 1,000 spectators enjoyed the matches as well as hours of entertainment, with a juggling and clown show featuring Nachum the Clown, The Twins from France, the magic of Shlomo Levinger, face painting, balloon twisting, popcorn and cotton candy as well as a gala dairy lunch catered by Upper Crust of Cedarhurst.
Competition was fierce during the final matches which were played in the Grandstand Stadium, one of the U.S. Open’s premier stadium courts. The winners of the day in the men’s singles division were Chaim Pfeifer (defeating Dovid Rackman in Tier 1), Daniel Feinberg (defeating Daniel Buchinger in Tier 2) and Noam Mishkof (defeating Yechiel Eisenstadt in Tier 3). In the men’s doubles category, Gilles Gades/Bernard Hasten (defeated Joe Stansky/Abe Grohman in Tier 1) and Yitzy Roz/Yehuda Hershkowitz (defeated Jason Lieber/Mendy Haas in Tier 2) emerged victorious. The women’s singles winners were Matti Goldstein (defeating Suri Frank in Tier 1) and Tova Rosenfeld (defeating Gitty Lowinger in Tier 2). In the doubles tournament, it was Kiki Haas/Evy Guttman (defeating Miriam Lowinger/Debbie Drillman in Tier 1) and Marla Heimowitz/Rivky Engel (beating Estee Adler and Mirel Finer in Tier 2) who took home the trophies. All winners were presented crystal trophies in celebration of their victories.
For many players, the day felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually play in a U.S. Open match. “There were real USTA chair umpires and ball boys on each court, the weather was in the 80s just like at the (real) U.S. Open in August and even the dozen food vendors were set up in the various U.S. Open shops in the massive food court,” explained Dovid Schulman, an avid tennis player from Woodmere. Many of the corporate sponsors even received the opportunity to play against former French Open champion, Luke Jensen, in the Grandstand Stadium.
The Cross River Open was followed by the Grand Slam Foodie Experience, an amazing collection of some of the hottest restaurants in town including Graze Smokehouse, Judd’s Memphis Kitchen, Pho Men on Troy, 306 Southern BBQ, Izzy’s Smokehouse, Barnea Bistro, Eden Wok, Izzy’s Taqueria, T-Fusion Steakhouse, Carlos and Gabby’s and Elegant Desserts NY.
Our Place Director Rabbi Aryeh Young described the Cross River Open as phenomenal, and the U.S. Open has already been reserved for Memorial Day Weekend 2020 for next year’s tournament. The event’s success was due to the efforts of many, including main event sponsor Cross River; Grand Slam Foodie sponsor MYDA Advisors; apparel sponsors: The Lipsig Firm, Apex Global Solutions, Hudson Sustainable Investments and Outer Stuff Ltd.; court sponsors: Reception Hotels, Sneaker Warehouse & More, Tissa Management, USTA Eastern, Kindercare Pediatrics, Meridian Capital Group, ReliaTech Network Solutions, Clipper Equity and Morrison Cohen; and listing sponsors: Cedar Holdings Real Estate Investment, Cedarview Capital, Four Seasons Healthcare Solutions, Lincoln Equities Group, SGKK, Hampshire Properties, Old City Investment Partners, Deb El Food Products, Cushman & Wakefield, Buchinger Law, Eden Wok, Theryon, High Life, Sterling National Bank, Great Kosher Restaurant Foodies, Jefferies and Dri Mark Products.
“The Cross River Open was a true grand slam in every sense of the word, with sportsmanship and philanthropy coming together in a remarkable way,” said Rabbi Young. “It was an unprecedented opportunity to stage a premier tennis tournament giving members of our community a chance to display their talents and athleticism at a world class venue. We look forward to making the Cross River Open an annual event and are incredibly grateful to all those whose contributions made this tournament an unqualified success.”