Regardless of what happens from this point on, Julie Kosmynka is going out in style — as a champion.
Kosmynka and her teammates on the Mattituck High School girls tennis team capped off a championship season Friday with one last win. In its final team match of the shortened 2021 season, visiting Mattituck downed shorthanded Southampton, forced to forfeit all three doubles matches, 7-0. The Tuckers had already clinched the Suffolk County League VIII championship.
It should be noted that Mattituck’s strange season consisted of playing in a three-team league (Center Moriches is the third team).
“We can only win the league we are in, right?” coach Cory Dolson said. “So, we’ll take it.”
One should never have to apologize for winning a league title.
It is Mattituck’s second league crown in four years (the 2020 season was pushed back to this current two-month season because of the pandemic) and 11th overall.
“All of our seniors were like, ‘We need the league title shirts. We need those shirts!’ ” Mattituck’s No. 2 singles player, sophomore Justyna Solowinska, said: “And I was like, ‘I can buy you those shirts, but we don’t need the league title.’ But they were like, ‘No. We need the title!’ ”
It may be hard to believe that Kosmynka is one of those seniors. Really, it doesn’t seem all that long ago when she was an eighth-grader joining the varsity team for a few matches and being awed by the first singles player at the time, Liz Dwyer.
“I was very nervous,” Kosmynka recalled. “I always came to practice and I saw Liz Dwyer like ten times taller than me, but right now we have a seventh-grader [Fiona Dunn] on our team and hopefully just the experience of being on a varsity team and being with older girls gives you so many memories and you get better.”
Kosmynka has gotten better. No question about that. After a couple of seasons playing second singles on and off, she moved up the ladder to the first-singles slot this season. She’s also the longest-serving player on a team that has plenty of new faces.
“She’s come a long way,” Dolson said, “but she’s a great player, she’s a great kid and it’s great for us to have her at the top of the lineup.”
Kosmynka raised her record to 7-1 Friday by dispatching Shelby Delossantos, 6-2, 6-1. With her smooth strokes and calm manner, Kosmynka outpointed Delossantos, 53-30, and put away 16 winners, twice as many as her junior opponent. Kosmynka broke serve seven times.
“I think it’s all strategy,” Kosmynka said. “You could play someone that looks ten times stronger and bigger, and somehow you get the ball around them and you mess up their footing, something like that, and you could win.”
Ironically, Kosmynka, who had ACL surgery on her left knee following the 2019 season, may have benefited by the normal fall girls tennis season being postponed till March and April. It gave her more time to recover from the injury.
“She had that knee injury, so her mobility, to be honest with you, I think it’s still pretty good,” Dolson said. “I was a little nervous of her coming back, you know, just about how she was going to move around the court, but it seems like she’s moving well. Sometimes she favors it a little bit, but to be honest with you, [the delayed season] gave her a lot of time to rest her injury, so I mean it actually might end up being a little bit of a blessing in disguise.”
“She’s very consistent, she’s very smart,” he added. “She’s been playing for a long time, so she has a lot of experience whereas a lot of the girls on the team this year, they don’t have much experience at all. She’s been playing varsity matches since eighth grade. I don’t think she gets too up or too down. There’s no moment too big for her.”
Kosmynka said she “just likes wearing the colors on the court and really representing Mattituck, and just because Mattituck has such a good program, I’m happy to play for them.”
She has a fine parting gift.
Justyna Solowinska brought her record to 7-1 for Mattituck (6-2, 4-0) with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Southampton’s Madison Taylor. In the other two singles matches, Lily Slovak downed Haley Thayer, 6-1, 6-1, and Cassidy Celic beat London Bess, 6-3, 6-1. Mattituck also had Misha Uklanska, Kendall Fabb, Lauren Onufrak, Piper Altman and Fiona Dunn available to play exhibition matches.
“Now, we’ve been thrown into this situation, and I think we handled this perfectly,” Solowinska said of the COVID-19-shortened season. “I feel like we kind of got this [closure]. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but we got there.”