Boys Tennis: Malave finishes fourth in division tournament

Mattituck junior Garrett Malave returning a shot during the Division IV semifinal. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
Mattituck junior Garrett Malave returning a shot during his Division IV semifinal against Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)


Chris Kuhnle said it wasn’t easy. The scores may suggest otherwise, but Kuhnle said winning the Suffolk County Division IV singles championship on Monday was hard work, something he is not a stranger to.

Hard work, Kuhnle said, is what has brought his tennis game to where it is. The Shoreham-Wading River High School junior, the top-seeded player in the division tournament, reached the final for the second year in a row. The only difference is this time he was the one presented with the keepsake tournament bracket that goes to the champion.

Kuhnle beat East Hampton junior Julian MacGurn, 6-0, 6-1, for the title on a windy Monday afternoon at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach.

The second-seeded MacGurn had to deal with what every other opponent of Kuhnle’s has had to deal with this season — stunning consistency, powerful shots and clean play. Kuhnle has been a dominant force, with a 20-0 record. He hasn’t been pushed to three sets yet this season.

His calm, easygoing demeanor aside, Kuhnle frustrates opponents with his efficiency and shot-making ability, both of which were on display. In the five matches he played in the division tournament, he lost only four games.

Kuhnle, who fell to Westhampton Beach’s Cooper Lacetera in last year’s division final, was determined to make the most of his opportunity this time around. He was too much for MacGurn (18-2), putting away nine service aces and 16 winners.

To top off the match, Kuhnle waved a nice backhanded slice down the left side, ending the match in a tidy 45 minutes.

That was one minute less than it took for Kuhnle to defeat Mattituck junior Garrett Malave in the semifinals.

MacGurn was a 6-1, 6-4 semifinal winner over No. 3 Dan Okin of The Ross School. On Saturday, MacGurn ousted Shoreham-Wading River’s Doug DeMaio in a quarterfinal, 6-2, 6-1.

Kuhnle’s path to the final was a smooth one. He dropped only one game in two-set wins over Chris Ferguson of Center Moriches, Andrew Young of Mattituck and Gonzalo Trapote of The Ross School. In the semifinals, Kuhnle had a minor hiccup, dropping a pair of second-set games to Malave. Still, Kuhnle breezed to a 6-0, 6-2 result.

Kuhnle blew through the first set, outpointing the fourth-seeded Malave by 24-9. The frustration got to Malave, who at times in the second set lost his composure, slamming the ball into the net after a point and hitting another ball over a fence another time. Malave was put in the unusual position of committing 11 unforced errors to only two by Kuhnle.

During the third game of the second set, Malave changed rackets after breaking a string, but the new racket didn’t bring him much luck, either, although he did pick up a couple of games with it after falling behind, 5-0, in the set.

For his career, Kuhnle is 6-0 against Malave.

Malave had survived a wild first-set thriller in his quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Alex Reiley of Eastport/South Manor. After pulling out a tiebreaker, 11-9, Malave took the second set, 6-4. In Malave’s earlier matches, he beat Chris Robertson of William Floyd, 6-0, 6-2, and Kevin Jiang of William Floyd, 6-1, 6-3.

In the third-place match, Malave (11-8) pulled out a tiebreaker to take the match to three sets before losing to Okin, 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2.

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