It isn’t the wins, losses and statistics that Liz Dwyer is going to remember as much as the human moments, the fun times she enjoyed while playing tennis for Mattituck High School. She’ll remember the sign language she developed with her practice partner, Emily Mowdy, so they could let each other know during a match whether they were winning or losing. She’ll remember the laughs shared during practices.
“Someone would get hit with a ball and that would be like a 10-minute laughing fury,” the senior said. “It’s just the lull moments that you’re going to miss.”
Of course, winning matches is nice, too, and Dwyer had her share of those over the years.
Not on Thursday, though. Mattituck’s season ended, and with it one of the greatest careers the Tuckers have ever seen.
Dwyer lost her first singles match as fourth-seeded Commack beat No. 20 Mattituck, 5-2, in a Suffolk County Team Tournament Round of 16 match in Commack.
With that came the end of Dwyer’s five-year career with the Tuckers.
“She’s one of the all-time bests,” said coach Mike Huey, mentioning her alongside Beth Christy, who starred for Mattituck in the early 1980s.
Dwyer’s final match was a tough one. She faced a freshman, but not just any freshman. Emily Tannenbaum is a tough competitor with some fierce strokes.
“She’s very tall,” said Bryan Bonin, Commack’s junior varsity coach who ran the Cougars (11-2) in place of absent coach Jackie Clark. “She doesn’t look like a freshman and she certainly doesn’t play like a freshman, but yeah, she’s going to be a difficult matchup for anyone that we come across.”
Tannenbaum won, 6-3, 6-4, putting away 28 winners. “And she’s lefty, so that adds definitely a different spin to it, which really got me,” said Dwyer (14-7), who trailed 5-1 in the second set before winning three straight games.
Mattituck (5-9) will undergo a major facelift next year. The entire singles lineup of Dwyer, Mowdy, Drew Hahn and Larysa Andreadis are seniors, as are the members of the first doubles team, Joy Davis and Alex Talbot.
“I tell you, there’s a lot of these girls that I’ve had for four years, and they’ve made this job so pleasant,” Huey said. “Never a dull moment. … They’re a fun group, and I’m going to miss them all.”
Dwyer first joined the Tuckers as a third singles player. She spent the last four years at first singles, running up a 56-18 record. This year she had her best finishes in both the Division IV Individual Championships (third) and the county tournament (quarterfinalist).
“I think overall it was great,” said Dwyer, who is leaning toward attending Southern New Hampshire University and possibly playing tennis and basketball. “When you’re older, you don’t really remember your wins or losses.”
Mowdy (13-5) and Hahn (11-5) both closed out on winning notes. Mowdy defeated Victoria Pensiero, 6-3, 6-2, at second singles. Hahn handled Leah Eisele, 6-1, 6-1, at third singles. Over the last three years, Mowdy went 40-7 and Hahn went 26-6.
League I runner-up Commack, which will face either the League VII champion, No. 5 William Floyd, or No. 12 East Islip in a quarterfinal Friday, wrapped up Thursday’s win with victories at fourth singles and second doubles. Kristen Chao beat Andreadis, 6-0, 6-1, while the doubles team of Christine Kong and Emma Mangels downed Julie Kosmynka and Mia Slovak, 6-0, 6-0.
Commack took the two other doubles matches as well. The first doubles team of Julia Kinakis and Emma Metz were 6-2, 6-1 winners over Davis and Talbot. In third doubles, Lauren Katz and Khaya Sokol scored a 6-2, 6-2 result against Annie Finnican and Jessica Scheer.
“We were not expecting to even make it into the playoffs,” said Hahn, who brought Mattituck the decisive point in its 4-3 first-round defeat of No. 13 Bayport-Blue Point on Wednesday. “We made it two rounds in, so I think Mr. Huey is really happy and I think the girls should be proud of themselves.”
Huey said competing in League VII, arguably the best league in Suffolk, was beneficial for his players, who sharpened their skills through tough competition. “They were always challenged, and most of the time they rose to the challenge,” he said.
As for the season, Huey said, “It met all my expectations.”
Photo caption: In four years as Mattituck’s first singles player, senior Liz Dwyer compiled a 56-18 record. (Credit: Bob Liepa)