It’s nice to have a good, reliable singles lineup. To have a good, reliable singles lineup that is young is even better still.
That is what the Mattituck High School boys tennis team is blessed with, four young singles players — three freshmen and a sophomore. The singles lineup remains intact from last year. Garrett Malave plays first singles, Parker Tuthill is slotted at second singles, Andrew Young holds the third singles position, and Thomas Chatin is at No. 4.
“They’re all good players,” said Mike Huey, who is in his 37th year as the team’s coach.
And their stock is rising.
“They’re a year older, a year more mature, quicker and physically stronger,” said Huey.
Malave, Tuthill and Young, the sophomore, all went 11-1 during the regular season. Malave and Tuthill, who are both already entering their third varsity season, were both all-league selections. Last year Malave reached the Suffolk County Conference IV quarterfinals before losing to Jeremy Dubin of Southampton, the conference champion.
“They became more match tough,” Huey said of his singles players.
Mattituck, which went 12-1 last year, its sole loss coming to The Ross School in the first round of the county team tournament, may be the favorite to finish first in League VIII this year.
“I believe that we’re going to be the team to beat in League VIII,” said Huey, whose team will face formidable opponents such as William Floyd, Longwood and Rocky Point. “I think we match up very well with the other teams in our league, but we have to play good tennis. We can’t just show up and expect to win. We have to play good tennis.”
Less than a full week into preseason practice, the doubles teams had not been determined. Among the pool of doubles players to choose from are seniors James Rabkevich, Dan Salice, Steve Urwand and junior Kevin Schwartz. Huey said he also has four good prospects who played for the junior varsity team last year: juniors Charles Hickox, Tyler Rozhen, Nick Rabkevich (who is James’ brother) and Jake Nolan.
The coach said, “The group of juniors coming up from the JV are going to round out the lineup very nicely.”
Preseason practices are a logistical challenge for Southold/Greenport coach Andrew Sadowski, who puts a good deal of planning into his practice schedule. “You can’t wing it,” he said.
With cold, inclement weather to deal with and only four courts to play on at Southold High School, Sadowski keeps his players moving by splitting the group in half. While one half plays on the courts, the other half goes indoors for agility, conditioning and strength work.
Because of bad weather, the Clippers (3-9 last year) were able to hold only three and a half outdoor practices during the first week of preseason training.
The second week of practice is a big one. Sadowski said he would like to have his lineup in place by Thursday, but acknowledged that it is possible he may even be making such decisions as late as next Tuesday, the day before the team’s season-opening match against Center Moriches.
Of course, the most obvious question to be addressed is who will succeed Josh Robinson, who had been the team’s first singles player for the last two of his three years on the team and is now a freshman playing for Springfield College (Mass.). The early favorite is Devyn Standish, an all-league senior who played second singles last season. Another senior, David O’Day, is in contention for the top spot, “and David O’Day is right on his heels,” said Sadowski.
Challenge matches will determine lineup positions. James Shine, a senior who played fourth singles last year, should be somewhere in the mix. Three juniors — Will Richter, Dylan Stromski and Drew Sacher — played doubles last year. Another junior, Gary Prieto, was a doubles player as well, but has shown an interest in playing for a singles position, said Sadowski.
“You never know how those challenge matches are going to go,” said the coach.
One player who will not be in the picture is Brian Hallock. The junior, one of the team’s top doubles players, suffered injuries in a snowboarding accident, including a fractured right arm, said Sadowski.
“I think we’re going to be solid competitively all the way through,” Sadowski said. “I still have doubles teams to figure and who’s going to step up and fill in and be the third and fourth singles [players]?”
Sadowski said it is important for his team to have the proper mindset once the season starts. “I think the big thing is we start the season off playing with confidence; win or lose, we retain a sense of confidence in ourselves,” he said. “The goal that we’ve set is certainly to be competitive in all our matches.”