09/18/17 12:00pm
COURTESY PHOTO | Maggie Davis leading a fitness class in the park.

COURTESY PHOTO | Maggie Davis leading a fitness class in the park.

Traditionally, we think of exercise as something we do to improve our cardiovascular health, strengthen our muscles and maybe help us shed a few pounds. Although all of these are just a few of the many life-extending benefits of exercise, some of the most important and recently discovered benefits are for the brain. I’ve often contended that if employers knew about the increased productivity associated with exercise not only would they provide the time and space for fitness — they would mandate it. And if schools were aware of the improved memories, problem solving skills and test scores of students who participate in fitness classes, there would be fewer cuts to school gym programs.  (more…)

10/21/12 1:00pm

PETER BOODY PHOTO | The first-ever Shelter Island girls tennis team.

As stated in the Reporter two weeks ago, Shelter Island High had its first varsity girls tennis team this year.

Before the season started, we had two disappointing losses. First, Keri Ann Mahoney had knee surgery in July and was out for the year. (Last year she was undefeated at second singles on JV); second, Melissa Ames went to the volleyball team. (Last year, she had only one loss at third singles.)

This left me with 11 players. Two of them are 7th graders, Madi Hallman and Caitlin Binder; and one 8th grader, Evi Saunders. These three girls had to pass running, agility and strength tests to play on the varsity level. Also returning were 9th grader Serina Kaasik; 10th grader Nicole Poleshuk; 11th graders Brianna Kimmelmann, Jenny Case and Taylor Sherman; and seniors Lisa Kaasik, Jill Calabro and Corrine Mahoney.

I knew we were going to have a tough year with the loss of the two players and playing on the varsity level.

Our team leader and captain, Lisa Kaasik, had a good year at first singles with a 6-6 record. Freshman Serina Kaasik, who played fourth singles last year, played second singles this year. She had a terrific win against Eastport/South Manor, who as a team was undefeated and won our league.

Playing third singles was Corrine. (She played first doubles last year.) So playing singles was a new game for her. She always seemed to get a really tough player. She had the closest match of anyone and did a great job of holding her own.

The fourth singles spot was shared by 7th graders Madi and Caitlin. They played much older and more experienced players but did a great job.

First doubles was Nicole and Evi. Often they faced a first- or second-singles player playing doubles, which made their job even harder. A team’s two best players usually play singles.

Second doubles was Jenny and Brianna. Their best match of the year was a three-set win against Southampton.

Third doubles was Jill and Taylor. They did a great job with wins against Southampton, Center Moriches and Southold.

Although the team didn’t have any varsity wins, we were close, losing four of our matches by only one point. It was a good experience for the girls to face more advanced players. Hopefully, they will set new goals for next year. For example: learning to hit with topspin, moving their feet to get set up for the ball and directing their shots.

We had two players who earned All-League honors this year, Lisa and Serina Kaasik. They also got to play in the conference tournament at William Floyd High School. Serina, unfortunately, had to play the number-three seed of the tournament in the first round and lost 6-0, 6-0. Lisa made it to the second round, where she had to play the eighth-seed Carly Grossman of East Hampton. She didn’t win but gave her a tough 6-3, 6-2 match. Congratulations to both of them.

As a coach, it was hard not winning a match. But I must say that of the six years coaching tennis at Shelter Island, this was my favorite year. I had a great bunch of girls whose ages and skill levels varied greatly but they all seemed to get along well. It was nice to watch all of them improve against the higher level of competition. I hope they all continue to play tennis.

I also want to say a special thanks to Lisa and Jill. The two or them have played on the tennis team for all six years. Thank you and I’m going to miss you next year. Come visit and bring your racquet.

10/07/12 11:00am

BOB DESTEFANO PHOTO | Tennis coach Sue Warner takes a practice swing outside Fedi’s.

Although I have watched a lot of tennis, I must admit that I really know very little about the game outside of the fact that it is a lifetime sport.

I also must admit that I always preferred watching womens tennis mainly because each point has a rally. In mens tennis, it is usually watching a serve and it’s all over. I also learned for the first time that our own Shelter Island School has a varsity girl’s tennis team, which sparked my curiosity and I decided to check it out.

The person I had to speak with was someone I see just about every day at Fedi’s Market, Suzie Warner. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I knew nothing about Sue outside of her cutting my steaks, making my sandwiches or collecting my money. I was surprised to find out that she was quite an accomplished athlete along with being a fully qualified coach who happens to be very passionate about her girls and their team.

Unlike other child stars, Sue herself didn’t start playing tennis until she was 16 years old and then played for East Hampton High School in her last two years. This quick improvement earned her a partial scholarship to C.W. Post, where she played on a team that won the USTA tournament. After graduating, she became certified to teach tennis, her first job was at Sporttime in Amagansett.

Six years ago, she started a program for the girls at the 7th and 8th grade level; two of those girls, Jill Calabro and Lisa Kaasik, remain on the team. Sue’s goal was to someday have a varsity team that would give teenagers a chance to see a better grade of tennis. This year her goal was reached; for the first time, the school had a varsity team. Subsequently, the girls did find themselves competing in a much improved league. If success is measured in learning and having fun doing it, then they are having a magnificent year.

Unfortunately, this season, the team lost two of its star players, Keri Ann Mahoney and Melissa Ames, who played number 2 and 3 last season. Between the two of them, only one match was lost last year. Keri Ann had knee surgery and Melissa decided to play volleyball. One of our ongoing problems in a small school is that we don’t have enough students to play our sports. Sue said she would love to get 10 boys for a team to play in the spring but, as always, there just are not enough youngsters to go around.

I found in scoring these matches you need 10 players and four courts to win a competition. For each game, you have four singles and three doubles with each match getting one point. Playing in our singles matches we have Lisa Kaasik, Serina Kaasik, Corrine Mahoney, Caitlin Binder and Madison Hallman. In the doubles we have Evi Saunders with Nicole Poleshuk, Jenny Case with Brianna Kimmelmann and Jill Calabro with Taylor Sherman.

If you want to support the team with your presence, I think you will enjoy it. They have two home matches left with one on Friday, October 5 at 3:30 p.m. and another on Wednesday, October 10 on the school courts. Speaking of the school courts, Sue said she wanted to thank ProjectFIT  and Brian Springer for all the work he does keeping them in great shape.

On Saturday, October 13, we wish the best to Lisa and Serina Kaasik who will represent Shelter Island in the conference tournament at the William Floyd School. Let’s keep this lifetime sport going because, believe me, you will find out later the importance it will play in your life.

08/04/12 4:21pm

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Men’s doubles champions Kieran Corcoran, left, and Chris Ujkic bump fists after winning a point in their match versus Steve Paskiewicz and Roger Ross.


Given his druthers, Chris Ujkic probably would have preferred spending his Saturday preparing to play in the U.S. Open later this month rather than defending his three titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. And if that sounds far-fetched to you, please know this: Earlier this summer, the former Mattituck High School and Sacred Heart University star came within two matches of qualifying for the big show at Flushing Meadows.

But first, defend his Wall Tournament titles at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic he did, and most impressively. Relying on his astounding quickness and a 16-year-age advantage, Ujkic won his sixth consecutive men’s open singles championship, 6-1, 6-1, over 39-year-old, eight-time open singles champion Steve Paskiewicz, the former Riverhead High School standout.

By also teaming up to win the men’s open doubles and mixed doubles titles, Ujkic raised his Wall Tournament title count to 18 since he first triumphed as a 17-year-old Mattituck High School junior six years ago. In men’s open doubles, he and another former Mattituck High School tennis standout, Kieran Corcoran, won for the seventh year in a row, defeating Paskiewicz and Roger Ross, 6-3, 6-2. And in mixed doubles, Ujkic defended his title with a new partner, Denise Cardinale, 6-1, 6-0, over the brother-and-sister tandem of Rich Chizever and Iris Battino.

Chizever gained some significant consolation earlier in the day, however, toughing out a right hamstring injury to rally past the defending men’s 50-and-over singles champion, Andrezej Kopala, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

In the two other finals contested Saturday, East Hampton resident Dahlia Aman returned to the North Fork after an absence of many years to win her 14th — yes, count ’em, 14! — women’s singles title, and Tom Cahill and Leo Sternlicht avenged their loss in last year’s men’s 50-and-over doubles final, capturing their fifth such championship, 6-2, 6-4, over Jerry Duvall and Ed Yakaboski.

Aman’s victory was a little less straight forward. Her patented moon ball, error-free style of play was effective at first against Liz Rossi, the former Bishop McGann-Mercy High School star who is entering her junior year at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Aman won the first set, 6-3, but exceedingly long rallies — at least two of which exceeded 100 strokes — and the 90-degrees-plus temperatures began to catch up to the veteran player, who declines to give her chronological age but admits to being more than old enough to be the 19-year-old Rossi’s mother. In fact, Rossi rallied to knot the second set at five games apiece before she was forced to retire in order to fulfill a work-related assignment in Southampton. Aman, who actually exited the court and sat down in the shade during a second-set scoring dispute with umpire Jim Christy, wasn’t complaining that the match didn’t go to a third set.

Ujkic’s singles win over Paskiewicz was not as one-sided as the score might suggest. Their baseline rallies were fast and furious, and Paskiewicz most likely would have won easily against any other player entered in the tournament. But Ujkic isn’t “any other player,” as his recent performance in a United States Tennis Association qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open proved. In that event, contested in mid-June, Ujkic won three matches before being narrowly defeated by professional journeyman Mehdy Karbid of Morocco, 6-4, 7-5. Which means Christ Ujkic came within two matches of qualifying to play in the grand slam tournament. And that success has encouraged him to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis, while at the same time continuing to study for an October date with the LSAT law school entrance exam.

TOURNAMENT NOTES Due to a lack of entries, there was no women’s doubles competition again this year.

The 2012 Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament is sponsored by Times/Review News Group of Mattituck and directed, on a volunteer basis, by Mattituck High School’s longtime girls tennis coach, Jim Christy. Proceeds from this year’s event support a scholarship awarded to 2012 Mattituck High School graduate Erica Bundrick, who will attend St. Michael’s College in Vermont this fall.