Boys Tennis: Shorthanded Mattituck’s first loss is its last

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Mattituck seventh-grader Garrett Malave was involved in the only three-set match of the day, but lost to Bayport-Blue Point's Chad Stevens, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, in second singles.

Good things are worth waiting for.

The Bayport-Blue Point High School boys tennis team can attest to that. A playoff match that was postponed six times over an eight-day period was finally played on Tuesday, and the host Phantoms were happy with the result.

No. 10 seed Bayport-Blue Point swept all six of the individual matches that were played to oust the No. 23 Mattituck Tuckers, 7-0, in the opening round of the Suffolk County Team Tournament. With that win, Bayport-Blue Point (13-5) will advance to a quarterfinal against its geographic rivals, the seventh-seeded League III champion Sayville Golden Flashes (12-4), on Wednesday. Bayport-Blue Point, a League V team, was a 4-3 winner over Sayville in a non-league match earlier this season.

While the weather-related postponements cost Mattituck some practices, that wasn’t the case with Bayport-Blue Point. Thanks to indoor court time donated by a community tennis association, the Phantoms benefitted from some quality practices in preparation for their playoff opener.

“As a team we played one of our best matches today,” said Bayport-Blue Point coach Keith Scharfscherdt.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Graham Homan of Mattituck came up short at third singles, losing to Bayport-Blue Point's Jeremy Morgenbesses, 6-1, 6-1.

It was the first and only loss of the season for League VIII champion Mattituck (12-1), which played shorthanded and had to forfeit fourth singles. One of the Tuckers’ first doubles players, Connor Davis, had stepped on a ball in practice a couple of days ago, sustaining a high ankle sprain, and was unable to play. Davis’ absence prompted a series of lineup changes.

In the only three-setter of the day, Bayport-Blue Point senior Chad Stevens held off seventh-grader Garrett Malave in second singles. The two proved to be a good match for each other through the first two sets before Stevens pulled away for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 victory. Malave went 12-0 in league play this season.

Earlier in the day, Bayport-Blue Point’s first singles player, Matt Richards, used his blistering serve to record 14 service aces and made fast work of Joe Pfaff, 6-1, 6-0. Richards, a six-year varsity player (five at first singles) who earned a scholarship to play for Wagner College, said he went to bed early the night before, got some good rest and was ready to play. It showed. He outpointed Pfaff, 51-19, and committed only one unforced error.

“He’s probably the best player I’ve ever played in my life,” Pfaff said. “His serve had so much spin that every time it bounced, it caught me off-guard. I haven’t played anyone like him in our league.”

Richards is a rare player. An energetic, power player with a fierce serve and forehand, he uses his legs to twist, uncoil and apply torque to his serves, which he said have been clocked at 115 miles per hour. On Tuesday he put 54 percent of his serves in play and 77 percent of his second serves while making four double faults.

And then there are the loud grunts that accompany Richards’ shots. The grunting, he said, is a timing mechanism.

“It helps me time the ball,” he said. “I don’t even realize that I do it. I just do it.”

But what Scharfscherdt may like best about Richards is his composure. The coach said, “He keeps a cool head about him, and that’s something he developed over the years.”

Jeremy Morgenbesses coasted, 6-1, 6-1, over Graham Homan in third singles.

Bayport-Blue Point’s three doubles teams had a good day as well: Mike Falkenburgh and Ryan Gray got the better of Stefen Keuhn and Casey Ciamaricone, 6-3, 6-4; Jonny Keyes and Xavier Stickney scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kevin Reyer and Austin Tuthill; and Sam Campbell and Lucas Jenks teamed up to beat Jeff Strider and Parker Tuthill, 6-3, 6-1.

“We knew it would be a tough match,” Pfaff said. “They’re really good.”

At the same time, the Tuckers couldn’t really complain, having enjoyed the sort of season they did.

Mattituck coach Mike Huey said, “It’s been a great season.”

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