The surprise team didn’t have one final surprise left, but it sure took its best shot.
It was hard to know what to expect of the Mattituck High School girls tennis team entering this season. The Tuckers, under a new coach, had lost their entire singles lineup to graduation. Players, untested at the varsity level, had yet to prove themselves.
So, what do the Tuckers do? They go on to win the Suffolk County League VIII championship.
“I definitely did not expect this because I know most of the team moved up from JV this year, so I wasn’t expecting much, but it honestly blew my mind that we won [the] league [championship], but it’s great,” said third singles player Julie Kosmynka.
Mattituck (10-2) went 10-0 in league play and 10-1 in the regular season, but reached the end of the road Thursday with a 4-3 loss at William Floyd in the first round of the Suffolk County Team Tournament. It was Mattituck’s seventh straight appearance in the playoffs. Tenth-seeded Floyd (11-6) advances to a Round of 16 match at No. 7 East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson (10-2) Friday.
It was the end of quite a season for Mattituck and Cory Dolson, the team’s third coach in 38 years.
“The few girls that we had left over from last year with varsity experience, they really stepped up and won a lot of matches for us,” he said. “And then I think a lot of girls that came up from JV, even though a lot of them are seniors this year, they had a lot of match experience. A lot of them just really battled and we got a lot of points on doubles. So, really, that’s what carried us through the season.”
Ironically, doubles is Floyd’s strength, too. Floyd swept all three doubles matches and Saskia DaSilva secured the decisive fourth team point with her 6-3, 7-5 victory over Ashley Perkins in second singles.
Floyd, which had reached the county semifinals the past six years (twice making it to the county final and winning the title in 2014), represented a stiff challenge for No. 23 Mattituck. Earlier this year the Colonials put an end to Half Hollow Hills East’s 63-match win streak.
“It’s a credit to them,” Floyd coach Dave Pia said of his players. “They work hard, these kids.”
The three doubles matches were tidy affairs. The first doubles pairing of Hailey Loughlin and Chandni Patel beat Sarah Bihm and Mia Slovak, 6-1, 6-0. Lindsey Boorock and Sophia Johnson were 6-3, 6-3 winners over their second doubles opponents, Annie Finnegan and Claudia Hoeg. In third doubles, Amanda Junel and Isabella Saladin won, 6-4, 6-1, over Anna Burns and Katie Parks.
Mattituck has been helped this year by the addition of Kelsey Bundrick, a junior first singles player from Bishop McGann-Mercy. Bundrick showed the type of player she is by bouncing back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to win that set and her match against Alyssa Drell in a tiebreaker. The scores were 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
Bundrick, an All-County player, exhibited some wonderful shot-making ability as well as mental toughness.
“She gets to a lot of balls, she really does, and she’s really athletic,” Dolson said. “She really is. She runs a lot of balls down. She’s got a very good first serve and if she plays a little bit in the offseason, she’s going to come back next year better than ever.”
Drell made some tremendous shots herself in a match — played in chilly 49-degree weather — that saw some long, entertaining rallies. The Floyd junior put away 27 winners, but also made 37 unforced errors. Bundrick had 17 winners and 14 unforced errors.
Asked how she pulled out the win, Bundrick said, “I think really just keeping the ball on the court and staying focused.”
Kosmynka defeated Samantha Komnick, 6-0, 7-5, and Mattituck’s other team point came from fourth singles player Jessica Scheer. She prevailed over Alice Li, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
“We came in here, we battled,” Dolson said. “We lost 4-3, so we can leave with our heads held high.”
Photo caption: Mattituck third singles player Julie Kosmynka won her match in the Tuckers’ 4-3 loss at William Floyd. (Credit: Bob Liepa)