Making the switch from doubles to singles can be tough enough for a tennis player, never mind first singles. But that is the transition that Joe Pfaff made last season when he became the Mattituck Tuckers’ top singles player.
“It’s hard because you don’t really have anyone to rely on. It’s just you out there,” Pfaff said. “You’re constantly being pushed. It’s just an important spot. You know that you’re playing the best player on the other team, so you want to play your best, too.”
Pfaff, who had played first doubles with Connor Davis two years ago when they were both sophomores, took a big step last year with his emergence atop Mattituck’s singles lineup. Mattituck Coach Mike Huey said Pfaff made progress, particularly toward the end of the season and is in a position to have a good senior season.
“I think he should be, if not the best player in League VIII, close to it,” said Huey.
The hard-hitting Pfaff has a big serve, but with that sometimes comes inconsistency, said Huey.
“I like to serve and I like to volley,” Pfaff said during a break in the team’s practice on Friday. “That’s a big part of my game, my volley.”
That much hasn’t changed in Pfaff. What has changed, however, is his height. Since last season he sprouted five inches and now stands at 6 foot 2.
Because of a wrist injury, though — an unwelcome reminder of last season — Pfaff hasn’t played much in the off-season. He tore a ligament in his right wrist during last season, but didn’t let it keep him off the court for the Tuckers.
“I was supposed to get surgery, but I put it off so I could play,” he said. “It’s pain, but I dealt with it last year, so I figured I could deal with it this year, too. I’m not too worried about it.”
The right-handed Pfaff started preseason practice on March 7 by playing with his right wrist taped and a brace wrapped around it. “I’m getting used to it,” he said.
Huey said: “He’s had a little issue with his wrist. I don’t think he’s been playing much since last summer, so he’s got a little rust, but it’s coming off quickly.”
Pfaff, who began taking tennis lessons when he was 7 years old, went 7-6 last year. He lost in the first round of the Suffolk County Conference IV Tournament.
“I think I played well, but I definitely could have played better, and hopefully I play better this season,” he said. “I’m feeling confident.”
A big plus on Pfaff’s side is his somewhat laidback mentality, which allows him to keep his cool under pressure.
“I stay mentally focused, which is important,” he said. “You have to stay mentally focused all the time. That’s a big part of tennis.”