Tennis: Corcoran, Ujkic serve up 8th straight doubles title

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07/27/2014 2:18 PM |
Kieran Corcoran returning a shot Sunday when he and Chris Ujkic won their eighth straight men's doubles title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Kieran Corcoran returning a shot Sunday when he and Chris Ujkic won their eighth straight men’s doubles title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

BOB WALL MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT

It takes two tennis players to form a doubles team, but Kieran Corcoran and Chris Ujkic play as one.

They share a great understanding, talking, flashing signals and encouraging each other on the court.

“We try to communicate a lot,” Corcoran said. “We try to act as a unit. There’s no negativity, zero negativity whatsoever. It’s all positive.”

The partnership has worked. They have proven to be a winning team, time and time again.

Corcoran and Ujkic teamed up to nail down their eighth straight men’s doubles championship in the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament on Sunday. The top-seeded pair prevailed, 6-3, 6-4, over the No. 2 tandem of Will Clemans and Andy Miller, who they faced for the first time in doubles competition.

“For a fair amount of years he carried me on his shoulders,” Ujkic said of Corcoran. “I think I carried him a little bit on mine, and today it was like we were holding hands. We’re even now. We both know each other’s games and we think instinctively. We trust each other implicitly with everything.”

They make for a winning, if unlikely, combination, the 45-year-old Corcoran, who lives in Tenafly, N.J., and the 25-year-old Ujkic, a Mattituck resident.

Sunday’s final was moved to Mattituck High School from Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic because of wet courts from a series of morning cloud bursts. The courts in Mattituck, where both Corcoran and Ujkic had played on countless times when they represented Mattituck High School, were dry and the sun even emerged from behind the clouds for a spell.

A cloud of uncertainty hung over Ujkic’s participation in the match. Ujkic, who is ripped with muscles, said he had pulled his trapezius muscle “pretty bad” on Monday and had to cut short a training session after about 45 minutes on Saturday because of the sharp pain. He said he wasn’t sure he would be able to play Sunday or if he did, how long he would last.

“Surprisingly, I got away with it,” he said.

The injury didn’t appear to affect his play, though. He and Corcoran put away more than twice as many winners (20-9) as their opponents and made half as many unforced errors (8-4).

The match underscored the value of serving. Only two service breaks were made (both in favor of Corcoran and Ujkic) and only three double faults were recorded in a well-played contest that was completed in just under 61 minutes.

“The second serve is the most important and they both have good second serves,” said Clemans, a Nesconset resident.

Corcoran and Ujkic held a slight advantage in first-serve percentage, 76.8 to 70, but that can tilt things in a close match in which little things become magnified into big things. They also enjoyed a 21-16 advantage in service aces.

“In doubles it’s all about serving and, as Will says, you’re only as good as your second serve,” said Miller, who is from Plainview. “You start giving away too many second serves and they’re attacking, then you’re pretty much on the defensive the whole time. So, that was the difference.”

All four men had to deal with a tennis player’s worst enemy: the wind. It wasn’t easy.

“Considering the wind, I thought it would be a sloppy match, but there was a lot more winners than errors that were hit,” said Miller.

Ujkic, a multiple champion in various divisions in this tournament (which is sponsored by TimesReview Newsgroup) over the years, called this one his favorite of them all.

“Will and Andy only gave us a select number of points, and we were able to capitalize on those,” Ujkic said. He added: “Everyone was serving well. Everyone played sharp and I think everyone sensed the tension on those bigger points.”

bliepa@timesreview.com