(Courtesy of Our Place) The third annual Cross River Open, the Jewish community’s premier tennis event took place this past Sunday, May 30, benefiting Our Place. The sold-out tournament, with unparalleled competition, consisted of over 100 players all eager to compete and earn the undisputed bragging rights to be among the Jewish community’s top tennis players. Players converged from the Five Towns, Monsey, Flatbush, Lakewood, Great Neck, the Upper West Side, Passaic and Teaneck, and were joined by out-of-town players from Chicago, Miami and Virgnia who all flew in for the unprecedented level of competition. Four different tournaments, women’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles and men’s singles all took place over the course of the tennis-filled Sunday.
The event was held at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy on Randall’s Island, New York City’s premier tennis academy and the practice courts for many professional tennis players. The tournament has been relocated from the previous U.S. Open venue for the past two years, due to coronavirus restrictions at the U.S. Open. This year, the Randall’s Island COVID-friendly venue was a true blessing from above. Despite the downpour of rain on Memorial Day Sunday, players were able to play on, staying dry inside the pressurized, winter tennis bubbles at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy—rain or shine, it was game on!
Players were welcomed bright and early to a gourmet breakfast from Gotta Getta Bagel and upon their arrival, participants received loaded swag bags with premium apparel items sponsored by corporate partners, Cross River Bank, MYDA Advisors, The SHB Group, Landed Eagle, G2 investments, Apex Global Solutions, Cushman and Wakefield, PVE & Hub International. The tournament began with women’s singles, women’s doubles and men’s doubles all playing round-robin games prior to their eventual elimination play-off rounds, with men’s singles not scheduled until the afternoon..
Competitors were made to feel like professional players with ball boys on each court, physical therapists on hand ready to stretch and massage the players between matches and a professional tennis stringer, hand-stringing players’ rackets to perfection. Dovid Schulman, men’s doubles tournament champion, exclaimed, “The attention to detail and services for each player really differentiated this tournament from any other tennis experience in our community.”
Professional tennis player Noah Rubin, a four-time APT challenge title winner, also joined the event for the second straight year, participating in one-on-one sessions with tournament sponsors.
Following the morning’s championship matches, players and fans were invited to a scrumptious lunch, sponsored by Event Chairman Jason Lieber of MYDA Advisors, consisting of a remarkable assortment of dairy delicacies from Upper Crust in Cedarhurst. The men’s singles players then arrived to grab a bite to eat and begin preparing for the next round of intense match-ups that would highlight afternoon and evening play.
As the tournaments commenced the excitement was palpable. Family members watched from the sidelines with bated breath as players battled for every point. “I cannot believe how invested I was in the tournament; the players truly gave it their all which made for an exciting viewing experience,” said Esther Sklar, a fan who came to support her son.
The grueling afternoon matches left the players (and spectators) ready to eat, again! The Grand Slam Banquet, catered by Graze Smokehouse, featured exclusive carvings, top-notch BBQ fare with baby lamb chops and baby back ribs, and their world-renowned artisanal beef jerky. A beautiful sushi presentation sponsored by Eden Wok of New Rochelle accompanied dinner as well.
The winners of the day in the men’s singles division were Joseph Stansky (Tier 1) and Kevin Sweica (Tier 2), while in men’s doubles, Howie Hershkowitz and David Schulman (Tier 1) and Dovi Lefkowitz and Mark Segal (Tier 2) were also victorious. Naomi Aghbashoff (Tier 1) and Dasi Berg (Tier 2) came out on top in women’s singles, while Kiki Haas and Karen Adler took first place in women’s doubles. To congratulate each player on their victorious accomplishment, Our Place presented crystal trophies to each tournament champion.
Ultimately, though, it was Our Place who was the true winner, as players and sponsors alike joined forces to raise much-needed funds. The annual fundraising campaign was once again led by the generosity of main event sponsor, Cross River Bank, who’s magnanimous commitment to community and philanthropy is well-known. “In a year with such uncertainty, Our Place feels truly blessed to have such an incredible and loyal partner in Cross River Bank. Yaakov Gade and the entire Cross River family, not only play such a pivotal role in ensuring Our Place’s work in the community, but they are constantly setting and raising the benchmark for the entire corporate community in how to give back and promote both Torah and chesed in their support of countless vital community initiatives,” explained Rabbi Aryeh Young, executive director of Our Place. “Seeing everyone together again in-person, showing support for Our Place, reminds me how special and resilient our community is and it would not have happened without Cross River’s leadership.”
All tournament proceeds support Our Place’s work with at-risk and in-pain teens and young adults in our communities. Our Place operates six centers throughout the tri-state area, including its Teen Boys Drop-In Center, Teen Girls Drop-In Center, The Living Room Brooklyn, The Living Room Five Towns, The Living Room Rockland and Our Village Sober Living. Through its six centers, the Our Place network plays a vital role in helping hundreds of young people each year who have nowhere else to turn. Our Place is committed to empowering young people who are struggling with addiction, past trauma/abuse and other at-risk behaviors to rebuild their lives and become sober and productive adults. “Cross River is proud to continue our support for this event that enables the wide array of life-saving services that Our Place offers. We’ve been able to combine the community’s love for tennis with a truly amazing cause that is deeply impacting the individuals who have come to rely on Our Place,” explained Phil Goldfeder, SVP of Public Affairs at Cross River Bank.
Additional event sponsors included, Morningside Evaluations, IOT Technologies International, Morrison Cohen, DEB EL Food Products, Hudson Sustainable Investments, Rosewood Realty Group - National Investment Sales Division, Revenued, Rosenberg & Steinmetz PC, TierPoint, Recovery at the Crossroads, Harbor Group International, OuterStuff, Meridian Capital Group, Jerrick Associates, Tissa Management, Dri Mark, Cedarview Capital, Lincoln Equities Group, Rand, RSG Construction, Hampshire Properties, Feinberg Properties and Eden Wok of New Rochelle.