If Cory Dolson seems a little distracted these days, there’s a good reason. The Mattituck High School girls tennis coach has a lot of thinking to do.
Last year, after Dolson became the team’s third coach in 38 years, he was in for something of a surprise as the Tuckers (10-2) won all 10 of their League VIII matches. It was Mattituck’s 10th league title and first since 2014. The Tuckers went on to reach the playoffs for a seventh straight year, losing to William Floyd in the first round of the Suffolk County Team Tournament.
“It was great,” Dolson said. “We had a lot of fun. The girls did well. You can’t ask for more than that.”
But Mattituck has graduated seven of its 10 lineup players from last year. Aside from the top three singles spots, as of Tuesday, all the other positions remained up in the air, like a ball in midair, about to be served.
“I got a lot of girls with no experience, so it’s going to be kind of throw stuff out there and see what sticks,” Dolson said. “We have a lot of new players, a lot of players figuring out what to do.”
Mattituck does have senior Kelsey Bundrick, its All-County first singles player, back, and that’s no small consolation. “She looks great,” Dolson said. “She’s very focused. She’s very calm. She doesn’t get up or down. Her best attribute is consistency.”
What Dolson likes best about Bundrick is her “court coverage is almost second to none. She gets to a lot of balls.”
The second and third singles positions will be played by either senior Jessica Scheer or junior Julie Kosmynka. Senior Anna Burns and junior Cassidy Celic will be penciled into the lineup at fourth singles or doubles.
Dolson expects his toughest league competition to come from Southold/Greenport, Ross and Riverhead.
What’s the goal this year?
“We won last year, right?” Dolson said. “I think that’s our goal. You got to strive to be the best?
Southold/Greenport’s first singles player, sophomore Natalie Kopala, had quite a freshman season, going undefeated in league play and earning All-County status. Coach Mike Carver hopes 2019 brings more of the same.
“She’s just very super consistent,” he said. “Her groundstrokes are very, very solid. She could hit all day back and forth. She’s very solid. She has more experience. I think that’s the main thing.”
The top three singles positions for Southold (6-7) were decided by the end of last week. After Kopala, the First Settlers have junior Reese Thompson at second singles and junior Ellie Alloway at third.
“Fourth singles is still kind of up for grabs,” Carver said Friday.
In contention for the fourth singles spot are freshman Kaitlyn Duffy, All-League junior Hannah DeSimone and All-League junior Danielle Henry. Any of those three could play doubles on a given day, said Carver.
The doubles pool includes All-League senior Julia Mejsak, senior Ella Neese, sophomore Camryn Koke and freshmen Jessica Latham, Camille Ramone, Joanna Anderson, Erin Hoyt and Cayla Harley.
Southold lost only two players from last year’s team.
“I think we’re deep this year,” Carver said. “We have a nice group of very talented freshmen that are going to fill those roles. It’s definitely encouraging. I think we’re sitting in a nice spot. Last year was a nice year for us, having a winning [league] season.”
“They are all very coachable, a very coachable group of young ladies,” he continued. “They listen. They want to improve. They’re workers, and what’s nice, we’re starting to have success, which is nice for a program. Success breeds excitement.”
Photo caption: Mattituck’s All-County first singles player, Kelsey Bundrick, typically serves up a winner. (Credit: Bob Liepa, file)