The first set wasn’t even halfway completed and it had already become abundantly clear that this first singles match was going to take a while. That was just fine with Justyna Solowinska. In fact, the Mattituck senior tennis player prefers it that way.
A winner was going to emerge from this season-opening, non-league match. One just needed to have patience, and Solowinska has plenty of that.
In a contest that featured lo-o-o-o-ng points, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Solowinska and her opponent, junior Emma Venegoni, were literally the last ones standing under the brilliant sunshine on the Miller Place High School tennis courts. Theirs was easily the longest match of the day — 1 hour and 28 minutes, to be exact. Not that Solowinska was in any rush.
“They’re tiring,” she said of long points and long matches, “but no, I love them.”
One could see why. Solowinska was a 7-5, 6-1 victor, bringing Mattituck its only team point in a 6-1 loss.
What did Solowinska attribute her victory to more than anything else?
“Patience,” she said.
Solowinska said Venegoni became “frustrated at points and when you get frustrated, you got to just take a deep breath.”
Over the course of a match, a player is going to have ups and downs. Solowinska understands that full well.
The first set was a back-and-forth, taut affair, taking 51 minutes to complete. On five occasions the lead in games changed hands and another five times the score was tied.
“That plays into her style,” Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said of Solowinska. “It’s better for her to play long points because she’s not a big hitter or anything like that. She doesn’t really like to come to the net that much. So longer points usually leads to good things for her.”
Solowinska ended a long rally with a forehand winner that helped her take a 6-5 lead. She then benefitted from a series of unforced errors by Venegoni to wrap up the set, a minor victory in itself.
“Once you win that first set, you know, you’re set, golden,” said Solowinska.
A brief delay preceded that 12th game while Dolson attended to Solowinska’s racket. The gripping was unraveling, but Solowinska didn’t unravel. She grabbed the first four games of the second set and never looked in danger after that.
Solowinska outpointed Venegoni, 30-24, in the first set before outscoring her, 24-11, in the second. She held Venegoni without a point in five games. By playing safe shots and lobs at times, Solowinska limited herself to 15 unforced errors to Venegoni’s 39. “That’s definitely her bread and butter, you know, limiting her unforced errors,” said Dolson.
“Consistency just really helps,” said Solowinska, who lost only two league matches last season and is in her second season at first singles, having played second singles before that.
Consistency may not be as exciting as the spectacular shot, but more often than not consistency wins.
“Her biggest attribute is her consistency,” Dolson said. “You know, we say all the time to the other girls, ‘If you can run down every ball and keep the ball on the court, you’ll win a lot more than you’ll lose at this level.’ ”
Solowinska appreciates her teammates’ support. “The clapping at the end is all worth it,” she said.
Miller Place won all the other matches. Mary Cait Duffy defeated Misia Uklanska, 6-2, 6-2; Bianca Zou handled Sarah Mather, 6-1, 6-1; and Ruth Lynch beat Callie McClean, 6-0, 6-1. In doubles, Alyssa Gregorius and Maris Lynch combined for a 6-0, 6-1 win over Piper Altman and Fiona Dunn; Delaney Brennan and Nailah Rahman downed Autumn Montgomery and Lindsey Park, 6-2, 6-2; and Jordan Miletti and Evelyn Weiner were 6-4, 6-0 winners over Emma Celic and Skylar Rowe.
Not a bad varsity coaching debut for Miller Place coach Sydney Urazova. “We definitely got off to a good start, that’s for sure,” she said.
As did Solowinska, who wore her lucky bright pink cap, which she forgot to bring to school, but ran home to retrieve before the bus ride to Miller Place.
“Two years ago it just started as a thing and the team loved it and I started winning in it and I just I won’t throw it out,” she said. “I don’t think I will ever.”