BOB WALL MEMORIAL TENNIS TOURNAMENT
Liz Dwyer is all of 13 years of age, going on 14 (her birthday is Aug. 22). But she is not a typical 13-year-old. Most 13-year-olds don’t have her athleticism or tennis-playing ability.
In addition to being 13, Dwyer is also something else: the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament’s women’s singles champion.
The Mattituck girl became the youngest player to win the women’s singles championship in the tournament’s history Friday evening when she defeated another young Mattituck resident, Molly Kowalski, 18, in two sets. The scores of the match at Robert W. Tasker Memorial Park in Peconic were 7-5, 6-2.
Asked if she had a game plan for the match, Dwyer replied, “Get to every ball and hit it back.”
This was the first year in the tournament for both players and the first time they had faced each other in a competitive match. Yet, they are hardly strangers. In fact, they are former teammates on the Mattituck High School girls tennis team. Kowalski, who will play for NCAA Division III Muhlenberg College (Penn.) this fall, was Mattituck’s first singles player last year. Dwyer played third singles as an eighth-grader for the Tuckers. The two had also been teammates on their high school basketball and lacrosse teams.
Kowalski said she is a good friend of Dwyer’s older sister, Shannon, who attended the match along with other family members.
Although Dwyer and Kowalski had never played each other in an official match before, they faced each other in practices, most recently a few weeks ago.
Dwyer indicated that her reaction to learning she would go against Kowalski in the final was one of concern. “I was like, ‘Oh boy,’ because I played her in practices and sometimes she beat me,” she said.
Not this time, though.
It was an unusual match, with not many winners and only one double fault between the two players. They often traded points on unforced errors, especially in the first set. Kowalski made 26 unforced errors and Dwyer had 24 in the 68-minute match.
Serving didn’t seem to be an advantage. The up-and-coming Dwyer, seeded second, broke the top-seeded Kowalski’s serve eight times. Kowalski broke Dwyer’s serve five times.
“I’d rather receive it because I still have to work on my serve,” said Dwyer.
As the match progressed, Dwyer seemed to find her stroke while at the same time using her quickness to get to balls.
Kowalski said Dwyer “has improved a lot. She’s very good at the net so you got to be careful. She played her game. I knew what to look out for, but I didn’t do that great.” Kowalski also said she hasn’t played as much tennis this summer as Dwyer has.
Dwyer said she still has things to work on in her game, most notably her forehand and her serving.
Asked if she enjoyed the experience, she answered, “Tennis is always fun.”
Especially when you win a championship at the tender age of 13.
CAHILL, LEE RETAIN TITLE Tom Cahill, 68, of Mattituck and Ed Lee, 52, of Wading River have played doubles together for over 20 years. That may go a long way toward explaining their success and their second straight men’s 50-plus doubles title in the Bob Wall tournament.
“We know each other well and we know where we’re going to be on the court,” Cahill said. “There’s not a lot of guessing going on. And we both play a lot of doubles.”
All of that helped Friday evening as Cahill and Lee defeated Richard Chizever and Bob Lum, 6-3, 6-4, in a rematch of last year’s final.
Chizever and Lum made the defending champions sweat it out a little after building a 5-1 lead in the second set.
“We played well enough to win,” Lee said. He added: “They’re a good team. That’s a good win against those guys. To beat them you have to play well.”
It was a cleanly played contest with not many unforced errors.
Lum, 58, of Flanders said it came down to a simple factor: “They made less mistakes than we did.”
To that, Chizever, 58, of Aquebogue retorted with a laugh: “I have to say, when we did make some shots, we made some prettier shots, so, does that count for something? We had some good style.”