| By Erin Brown
Photo credit: Adam Wolfthal

The New York Open made its debut in Forest Hills, N.Y. at the West Side Tennis Club, July 4-7. The historic former site of the U.S. Open, West Side Tennis Club, in conjunction with the not-for-profit group, Tennis in New York, shared the mutual goal of bringing great tennis back to the area through this inaugural event. The New York Open featured not only tennis, but a book, film, food and family festival featuring players and exhibitors from around the metropolitan area.

The New York Open weekend would not have been able to be held without all of the volunteers who worked the event. Many thanks to the many sponsors and contributors for putting on this very successful event. One unique feature to this tournament was that there was a volunteer who would run bananas to the players if they were beginning to cramp up in the extreme heat wave. At the U.S. Open, the players have to deal with cramps with whatever they have in their bags, but the directors of this tournament knew it would be tough out there contending with temperatures in the middle- to upper-90s and they took care of their players.

All of the finals in the Men's and Women's Singles and Men's Doubles were played on Sunday, July 7, and the hot weather played a factor in each of the matches. The Women’s Singles Final match pitted Nino Lagvilava against Elizabeth Kobak, who was seeded second. Lagvilava defeated Kobak 6-3, 1-0, as Kobak retired due to an injury early in the second set.

After Lagvilava’s match, she discussed her ambitions on and off the court. She is currently taking summer classes, and will graduate in August. Her career goals are to be a tennis pro, and she is living with her aunt while looking for a place to live and work so that she can stay in the U.S.

Finalist in the Women’s Singles event, Elizabeth Kobak, suffered from an injury to her calf muscle and Achilles, which caused her to retire from the match. She played as a junior and was recruited by Columbia, but was unable to play due to injury. While earning her master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern, she played on the tennis team for a year.

The Men’s Doubles Final was a tough match, with first seeds Justin Natale & Jason Speirs defeating Richard Del Nunzio & George Finch 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7).

“It was a tough match," said Speirs after the match. "All of our emotions weren’t in check, and the match went back and forth. We had tough opponents, and all of us had to battle the elements.”

One of the players in the Doubles Final, Richard Del Nunzio, also played in the Men’s Singles Final. He was beaten by top-seeded Winston Lin, 6-3, 3-6, 3-0. The doubles match took a toll on Del Nunzio who had to retire in the third set of his singles match. He held at 5-3 to win the second set, but after the match, said, “I knew at 5-1 in the second set that I would not be able to finish.”

The Men’s Singles event was the only event for Lin, who was happy to come out on top. After the match, he commented, “It was hot out, which made the match tough.” Also, because Lin is a collegiate player, he could not accept the prize money, but the tournament did reimburse him for his tournament expenses.

The New York Open proved to be a very successful weekend for the West Side Tennis Club. And building off the success of this year, the tournament hopes to draw even more people and players to the historic site next year.

Credit all photos to Adam Wolfthal

Musicians perform at the New York Open Jazz Fest


New York Open sponsor E3 demonstrates some of the activities at the obstacle course at the Family Fest


Winners received a championship plate with the inscription "New York Open at Forest Hills" 



Richard Del Nunzio was a finalist in both the Men's Singles and Men's Doubles draws


Men's Doubles finalists George Finch & Richard Del Nunzio accept their trophies


Justin Natale & Jason Speirs, winners of the inaugural New York Open Men's Doubles Tournament, are presented with their trophies


Spectators take in the action of the first annual New York Open from the media boxes


Women's champion Nino Lagvilava and finalist Elizabeth Kobak accept their trophies


Men's Singles runner-up Richard Del Nunzio and champion Winston Lin accept their New York Open trophies