Call it the high school girls tennis team that never gives up.
It’s a great quality, and Mattituck coach Mike Huey sounds thrilled to see it in his players.
“I’ve learned that they’re tough players and you never can count them out,” he said. “They play hard, right to the finish.”
A prime example of that came Sept. 17 in a match against The Ross School. In five of the individual matches, the Tuckers dropped the first set, only to recover and win all five of those points in a 7-0 victory.
One of those players was Liz Dwyer, the sophomore who plays first singles. Dwyer is the type of player who seems to get better as a match progresses.
“She never throws in the towel,” said Huey.
After winning four straight matches, the Tuckers lost to East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson, 4-3, on Friday and defending county champion William Floyd, 6-1, on Monday. Both matches were at Mattituck High School.
Although the Tuckers lost, Dwyer won both of her matches in those contests, going three sets each time to do it. Against East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson’s Pamela Pilco, Dwyer lost the first set, 6-3, but recovered to win the next two sets, 6-2, 6-2.
As stirring as that comeback was, Huey said what Dwyer did on Monday was even more impressive. Dwyer prevailed over Emily Fernandez, 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-0, to bring her season record to 7-1.
“That’s a testament to how mentally tough she is,” said Huey.
Dwyer’s only loss this season has been to the defending Suffolk County Division IV champion, Jackie Bukzin of Eastport/South Manor.
Huey said Dwyer has mental toughness and physical ability as well as an all-court game. “She can play from the baseline,” he said. “She can come to the net. She can finesse. She can hit with power.”
Mattituck’s No. 2 singles player is another sophomore, Emily Mowdy. She hasn’t done too badly, either, putting up a 5-2 record.
Mowdy was a come-from-behind winner on Friday, outlasting Isabel Peters in a three-setter, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. On Monday, Brooke Fernandez (Emily’s sister) was a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Mowdy.
Three of Mattituck’s top four singles players are sophomores, including Drew Hahn. Julie Krudop, a senior, is the exception.
The Tuckers, League VIII champions last year, made a big jump to League VII, which offers stiffer competition. They haven’t done badly for themselves, sitting in third place with an overall and league record of 4-3, behind William Floyd (8-0, 7-0) and East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson (5-1, 5-1).
“It’s definitely a big difference,” said Anna Kowalski, who plays first doubles with fellow senior Courtney Penny. The two are 4-3 this season. “The whole way everyone plays is totally different, a lot faster, a lot more competitive, but I think it’s more fun playing up a league,” she continued. “We’re playing a lot better than I expected, actually.”
Penny has also been pleasantly surprised. “I expected way worse, but we’re doing good,” she said. “I feel like it’s always a battle with every team. We’re always losing and then we come back.”
“I knew we had it in us,” she added. “I didn’t think it would show so early, though.”
Photo: First doubles player Courtney Penny is part of a Mattituck team that has shown a great deal of tenacity. (Credit: Garret Meade)