Liz Dwyer can be her harshest critic. Perhaps that’s why the Mattituck High School tennis player was a little reticent to publicly assess her play against Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Rose Hayes on Monday.
“I’m not going to say how I would describe it because it would probably not be that nice toward myself, but I would say I did not play my best but I kept trying to get into the rhythm, try moving, but it just wasn’t there today and that’s just sports,” Dwyer said following her 6-0, 6-1 loss. “Sometimes you have the best game ever and you just move like crazy, get it over, you can’t hit anything out, or you just have a day where nothing is in your favor. I would say I was leaning more toward that way” today.
To put things in perspective, though, keep in mind that all three of Dwyer’s losses this season have come to Hayes (twice) and Eastport-South Manor’s Jackie Bukzin, the defending Suffolk County singles champion. Those two players are considered the top two in Suffolk Division IV. Dwyer is 6-0 against everyone else she has played.
Mattituck coach Mike Huey said, “If she can get the number 3 seed [in the division tournament], I’d be happy.”
It’s a smart bet not to count Dwyer out. The senior is a tough competitor with the physical ability to match. Ever since becoming Mattituck’s first singles player following the graduation of Molly Kowalski in 2014, her record is 48-14.
Also an accomplished basketball player, Dwyer sees sports in her college future. “I am hoping that I’m going to go play D-II in tennis in college, and then if I have enough time, I’m going to try to do tennis and basketball,” she said, citing Southern New Hampshire University and Merrimack College (Mass.) as potential choices.
Dwyer knew what she was up against Monday facing Hayes, who had defeated her earlier in the season, 6-3, 6-0. Hayes is an eighth-grader, but she’s not a typical eighth-grader. She is a phenom, having reached the division final last year as a seventh-grader.
“She probably came out of the womb with a racket, unlike me,” said Dwyer. Dwyer added: “She’s got a very consistent tough hit and it keeps going in, and then you’ll try to hit a winner, and she’ll get to it. You just keep trying and trying. It’s like a wall. The ball just keeps coming back.”
The loss aside, Dwyer said she enjoys the competition she gets from a player of Hayes’ caliber. “It helps me get better,” she said, “but I just wished I performed to what I could.”
• Mark your calendar
The Division IV Individual Championships will be played Oct. 7 (Rounds 1 and 2), 9 (quarterfinals and semifinals) and 10 (finals) at Shoreham-Wading River High School. Shoreham will also host the Section XI Individual Championships Oct. 13, 14 and 16.
Photo caption: Liz Dwyer has a 48-14 record since becoming Mattituck’s first singles player in 2014. (Credit: Bob Liepa)