It all starts with the serve.
In order to score a point, a tennis player needs to be able to put his serve in play. That can be a lot easier said than done, as was evidenced Monday in the first singles match between Mattituck’s Chris Waggoner and Eastport-South Manor’s Tim Jurgiewicz in Manorville. The two seniors had their moments when they struggled with their serves and other times when they looked spot on.
“It’s really important because that’s what starts off the entire point and usually when I get into a rhythm and I get all my first serves in, it’s really powerful and … my opponent can’t return it,” Waggoner said. “If I actually get a consistent serve, then I feel like I’m almost guaranteed to win that game.”
It looked as if Waggoner would coast, based on the way he took the first set, 6-2. He outscored Jurgiewicz, 30-16, in that opening set.
Jurgiewicz, who had opened the match with three double faults in the first game, missed 10 of his first 13 serves and had eight of his 13 double faults in the first set. Then, Jurgiewicz’s serving improved in the second set and he looked like a different player, catching Waggoner offguard.
“You could tell that when he was getting his serves in, he got a little more confident and he was making riskier shots and they were going in,” Waggoner said. “I think that threw me off, too.”
At the same time, Waggoner said he lost his focus after taking a 4-0 lead in the second set. Jurgiewicz won four of the next five games to pull to within 5-4 before Waggoner recovered to take the next game, closing out the match in 59 minutes.
Mattituck won the team match, 5-2. The Tuckers (7-1 overall and in Suffolk County League VIII) were leading, 3-2, when junior Sam Fish brought in the clinching fourth point. He held off sophomore Liam McGevna, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, at fourth singles.
Seconds later, Mattituck’s first doubles team of Luke Kosmynka and Joey Sciotta completed a three-setter themselves, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 over Colin Nikc and Tyler Plitt.
Mattituck swept the doubles points with the No. 2 team of Eshi Baldano and Tucker Johansson beating Joe Busiello and Ryan Semenuk, 6-2, 6-0. Luke Bokina and Brian Feeney were brought up from the junior varsity team and came through with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Matt Cannata and Gio Yanetta.
Eastport’s two points came from second singles player Ryan Nelson (4-6, 6-4, 6-4 over Dylan Wilsberg) and third singles player Zach Zanderzuk (6-0, 7-5 over Mike Goodale).
With the victory, Mattituck remains in the middle of a tight league-title race with two other teams. At the start of the day, first-place Southampton was 8-2, 8-1 and Southold/Greenport was 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s about what we expected,” said Mattituck coach Mike Huey.
Mattituck was missing four players from its lineup April 7 when it lost to Southampton, 4-3. The teams will face each again May 1 in Mattituck in a contest that could have huge title implications.
As it was, Mattituck was missing its top singles player, Ty Bugdin, on Monday. The senior was having a wisdom tooth removed, said Huey.
In Bugdin’s absence, Waggoner was bumped up from his regular No. 2 slot. He prevailed in his second first singles match of the year, bringing his season record to a perfect 8-0. Waggoner was an all-division first doubles player last season, his first with the team.
“He looked very good,” said Huey.
Waggoner scored the critical points and persevered despite some interruptions to his serving rhythm.
Waggoner said his serve is “generally inconsistent,” but effective when it’s on. He put 33 percent of his first serves in play and 74 percent of his second serves (as compared to Jurgiewicz’s 40 percent and 58 percent). Both players were nearly identical in service aces (Waggoner had 11 and Jurgiewicz 10).
“Rhythm is the whole thing,” Huey said. “You get into a rhythm. Once you’re into that rhythm, it’s a huge plus.”