Kelsey Bundrick was playing her tennis match Monday when the Mattituck High School senior saw a sign that it was going to be a favorable afternoon for her. A monarch butterfly flew by her.
Bundrick had played for the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs for three years before the Riverhead school closed and she joined the Tuckers two years ago.
Then again, a butterfly sighting wasn’t really necessary to figure out that Bundrick stood a good chance of winning — not with the way she has been playing.
“She’s playing great,” coach Cory Dolson said. “She gets the ball back over the net, doesn’t really make a lot of unforced errors, and has an improved serve. Her serve is getting better and better.”
Bundrick upped her season record to 5-2 with a tidy 6-0, 6-1 trouncing of Hampton Bays senior Brianna Hemmings. Her virtually mistake-free first singles match was part of host Mattituck’s 6-1 team win in the Suffolk County League VIII contest.
It’s amazing how much a player can accomplish simply by putting serves in play and limiting unforced errors. “If you keep the ball on the court, you win a lot of points in high school tennis,” said Dolson.
That’s exactly what Bundrick did. The stat of the day was unforced errors. Bundrick made two of them.
Two! That’s it.
Her opponent had 26.
Also, Bundrick didn’t double fault once.
“I was really focused today,” she said. “I was really just trying to keep it on the court because I felt that was going to win the game.”
It was sunny, warm and windy, windy enough that Bundrick said she had to play more conservatively than she might have otherwise.
Bundrick recognizes the value of limiting mistakes. “I think for me, that’s one of the most important things, but I am definitely trying to go more for the winners and hitting harder, but it’s hard because you need a good balance and you do need to keep it on the court, obviously,” said the affable Bundrick, who speaks in a measured tone. “Whoever keeps it on the court more is going to win.”
Hennings struggled with the wind, hitting balls into the net and putting only 24% of her first serves in. Bundrick held her to three points in the first set and 12 for the match, which was completed in 49 minutes.
So, what is it like playing against Bundrick? Teammate Kendall Fabb said: “It’s like playing against a pro. It’s a little scary.”
Mattituck (5-2, 4-2) entered the season with its share of question marks because of player turnover. The lineup the defending league champions sent out Monday had four players who hadn’t played tennis before this year: the second doubles team of juniors Lauren Onufrak and Fabb and the third doubles pair of seniors Gabby Finora and Rachel Lecesse, and a first doubles player, junior Lily Slovak, who before this season hadn’t played since she was a seventh-grader.
Slovak teamed up with senior Anna Burns for a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ivona Campos and Kat Reich. Fabb and Onufrak won, 6-1, 7-6 (5), over Meghan Brownell and Gia Teresi. Finora and Lecesse won by forfeit.
“We have a lot of girls who have never played before, so once we get past our first few girls, there’s a lot of inexperience,” said Dolson.
Julie Kosmynka said, “We were definitely unsure how the season was going to go.”
On some teams, Kosmynka would be a No. 1 singles player, but because of Bundrick, Kosmynka plays second singles for Mattituck. The junior ran her record to 6-1 with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Angelina Desiderio.
In yet another two-setter, Mattituck’s Jessica Scheer beat Riley Stotzky, 6-1, 6-1.
The only team point for Hampton Bays (0-7, 0-6) was provided by Marissa Kennedy at fourth singles. She was a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Cassidy Celic.
This being Bundrick’s last high school season, she wants to enjoy every bit of it that she can. She said, “It’s bittersweet because it’s so much fun, but it’s so sad knowing that this is the last time I’m going to be on these courts.”
So Bundrick is appreciating the moments, butterflies and all.
Photo caption: Mattituck senior Kelsey Bundrick made only two unforced errors and did not have a double fault Monday as she raised her season record to 5-2. (Credit: Bob Liepa)