TUCKERS 6, LIONS 1
No titles were clinched, but the Mattituck boys tennis team may have cleared its last major hurdle in its pursuit of a third straight league championship.
After dropping the first four games of his fourth singles match, Thomas Chatin recovered to defeat Nick Zier, 6-4, 6-1, and cap Mattituck’s sweep of singles in a 6-1 defeat of visiting Longwood on Tuesday. With four regular-season matches remaining, the Tuckers are 8-1, 8-0 in League VIII. Longwood sits in second place at 7-3, 7-2, both of its league losses coming to Mattituck.
The result is undoubtedly a significant boost to Mattituck’s league title chances, with remaining matches against Center Moriches, Riverhead, Rocky Point and Southold/Greenport.
“I think it increases them a lot because the teams we have left, we really can beat, I think, pretty easily,” said Mattituck’s No. 3 singles player, Andrew Young (9-0).
Perhaps the biggest surprise on Tuesday was the one-sided final score. Mattituck coach Mike Huey wasn’t the only one expecting a 4-3 score, either way. That was the score on April 5 when Mattituck squeaked by Longwood.
Although the players had to contend with bitter cold and wicked wind on Tuesday, the Tuckers were up to the challenge, especially Chatin. In the previous contest against Longwood, Chatin (8-1) suffered his only loss of the season to Zier. He didn’t let the memory of that or his difficult start on Tuesday discourage him, however, from coming back to post Mattituck’s fourth team point, assuring the Tuckers of the victory.
“I knew I had to win this one because it was real important,” Chatin said. “I was really happy because the last time he beat me by a lot, 6-1, 6-0. I just kept the ball in [play] and tried to do my best.”
Huey said that after Chatin lost the first four games, “from that point on, he was very consistent and did a great job. And that was probably the turning point of the match, I would say, right there.”
Chatin was born in Martinique, a French island in the Caribbean. He was moved to France when he was 1, and lived there until three years ago when he came to the United States.
Another league title would be a fine parting gift for Chatin. The freshman said he will move back to France after this season. “That would be great,” he said.
Garrett Malave, Parker Tuthill and Young also posted two-set wins.
Malave put away nine winners in his 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Indranel Mitra at first singles. After Mitra closed to within 4-3 of Malave in the first set, the Mattituck freshman bore down, winning the last eight games by an aggregate score of 32-14. He completed the 42-minute match with his 16th service ace of the day.
Tuthill was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Evan Arena, and Young handled Taylor Fichtnez, 6-2, 6-0.
The only three-setter of the day was won by Mattituck’s second doubles team of James Rabkevich and Dan Salice. They showed grit after losing the first set, 6-0, and then taking the next two sets, 6-4, 7-5, against Mark Arbusio and Igor Artemowicz.
Third doubles also went to Mattituck. Tyler Rozhen and Steve Urwand posted a 6-3, 6-4 result against Jon Cruz and John Kazubowski.
Longwood’s first doubles tandem of Dave Barlow and Chris Oglesby were impressive in their 6-1, 6-3 win over Charles Hickson and Kevin Schultz. The two Lions combined for 15 aces and 11 winners while committing only 3 unforced errors.
“I’m very, very pleased with the effort that was put out today,” Huey said. “And, of course, my top three [singles] guys, they were solid as a rock.”
Playing in tough weather conditions is something the Tuckers and players throughout the northeast have to contend with in the spring. It forces players to become more conservative with their shots.
But not even what Mother Nature threw at the Tuckers on Tuesday prevented them from closing in on clinching first place and the automatic playoff spot that comes with it.
Surely, the Tuckers knew this was a big match. They sensed it. A loss to Longwood would have opened the door for the Lions.
Said Young, “Once we won, there’s definitely relief.”