By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Kataria Classic wrapped up its second year of tournament play with the final championship match on Monday, Aug. 17 at the high school’s tennis courts. The tournament started on Friday and continued throughout the weekend, ending with Matt Wayton defeating Eric Piuriski, 6-2, 6-4, in the Men’s B Singles Division.
“He’s [Piuriski] a player I know well,” said Wayton. “I play him all the time, and have played him about 15 times this year already. He’s one of my top hitting partners, so it’s a familiar matchup. We both know each other’s game very well.”
Wayton said that his left-handed forehand was mostly working well for him throughout the match.
“I was going to my right-handed backhand and hitting the line,” said Wayton. “I was doing that pretty well. I wasn’t missing that much, and wasn’t making that many unforced errors. I just played pretty solid today.”
The Kataria family plays a big part in volunteering to help put together and run Wayton’s tennis tournament (Wayton Open), which took place earlier this summer. Although both tournaments are very similar in their appearances, Wayton said that they are also different in their own ways as well.
“I try to have a huge tournament,” said Wayton. “Mine is like a 10-day, two week affair. He’s [Kunal Kataria] trying to keep it small with local people. It’s more of a family event with food and dinners. Mine is more for of a competitive, serious tennis tournament. His has a parent-child division and is all about having a good time.”
The following are the final matches and winners from the 10 divisions of the tournament:
Mike Balaoing defeated Alan Chen 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1 in High School Boy’s A Singles; Hussein Akbar defeated Cameron Fahey 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-4 in High School Boy’s B Singles; Ellie Doolittle defeated Abby Murphy 8-3 in High School Girl’s Singles; Ben Doolittle defeated Matt Downes 6-2, 6-3 in Men’s A Singles; Angela Hage defeated Caroline Rodman 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 in Women’s Singles; Mike Flannery-Winton Filipek defeated Ben Chasse-Jacob Chasse 6-0, 6-1 in Men’s Doubles; Molly Murphy-Abby Murphy defeated Coral Tommervik-Carolyn Callahan 6-4, 6-1 in Women’s Doubles; Ben Doolittle-Ellie Doolittle defeated Mike Barmore-Alex Barmore 8-3 in Parent/Child Doubles; and Christina Trovato-Suhail Pathan defeated Evan Pokorski-Tim Carrier 6-3 in Starter Doubles.
The Doolittle family went undefeated in the tournament.
Tournament director, Kunal Kataria, said that there were about 85 entries that participated in the tournament.
“It was a great turnout,” said Kataria. “We had a very smooth-running weekend with only one scheduling issue. I think everyone came out and had a good time. We had food and tennis going on. It was a hard weekend of work, but it was all worth it. It was fun.”
Kataria said that he saw major differences and improvements in his tournament for the second year.
“We had more of a family atmosphere,” said Kataria. “It was better organized this year. We didn’t run into as many problems as we did for last year’s tournament. Last year, we were stressing out throughout the entire thing. It was very easygoing this year, and all the work beforehand. So, we were very well prepared and organized.”
For the first time, the Kataria Classic handed out tournament t-shirts to its participants, was supported by sponsors to help donate food and money, and gave to a charity. One of the goals for the tournament was to donate 30 percent of the expenses to the Southington Care Center to help improve the residential life. Kataria said that they are still waiting on other donations, but if need be, is willing to take money out of his own pocket.
“If not, I’m going to take something out of my savings and donate it anyway, just to reach that goal, said Kataria.”
Although the temperatures were hovering around the 90s for most of the weekend, the heat didn’t stop Mary “Mitzy” Kohl and Marion Gifford of the Southington Care Center from coming out to watch the tournament for the first time.
“Marion and Mitzy were here on Saturday, and again Marion on Sunday,” said Kataria. “They came out to watch tennis, and hang out with friends and families in the shade. The helpers and staff were interacting with them a lot.”
Gifford played tennis during her youth and said that the tournament was wonderful to watch.
“These young people are just having so much fun, by their commitment to each other and the game,” said Gifford. “There’s so much good sportsmanship to be watched. It’s so nice to see the Southington community, environment, and school being used. These kids are so respectful of their environment and each other. You always hear the negative, but these young people do the town proud. It’s fun to be here.”
Looking ahead to next year, Kataria said that he has learned a lot from the first two years and is looking forward to doing it all again.
“It’s hard to make everyone happy, so you have to try and please as many people as possible,” said Kataria. “You have to remember why you are doing it and who you’re doing it for. It’s tough to talk to and interact with everyone, but that’s why you have people around helping you out. I’ve been out here for the last two and a half days nonstop. It’s tiring, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. I have to keep reminding myself of that. It keeps pushing me through…all the stress and organization. I just hope we can give the residence council a sizeable donation, and continue that for the next few years.