It’s performance that counts for Jillian Dinowitz, not records or numbers.
“That’s all I really care about is trying to do my best,” said Dinowitz, a junior on the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls tennis team. “I really just care about how I play. The wins and losses really don’t mean much.”
In her first varsity season as a freshman, Dinowitz played third singles for the Wildcats. Last year she moved up to second singles and now she has reached the top of the lineup. Along that climb up the ladder, she noticed that the competition has gotten tougher and tougher with each level she moved up. The serves of first-singles players, she said, “are really hard and at the top, they’re very consistent and their games are just so good.”
But what Dinowitz, an All-League player last year, may like best about playing first singles is how it helps her raise her own game.
“It’s definitely a challenge but … it’s helpful and it kind of helps me understand my game better,” she said. “It shows me what I can aspire to be and what I can work on. It’s a good opportunity to be able to play these people that are better than me and to learn from them and improve.”
Coach Debbie Lutjen praises Dinowitz for her sportsmanship, character and integrity, calling her “an outstanding representative of not only the team, but the school and the community.”
“Jillian’s strength is her strong, consistent ground strokes,” Lutjen said. “She hits them with topspin. She’s able to hit good angles, move her opponent around.”
Those ground strokes helped Dinowitz put away 18 winners in a 6-0, 6-2 win over Southold/Greenport senior Sarah Jannazzo on Monday in Shoreham. That brought Dinowitz’ record to 4-8.
“She needs to bring her service toss down a little bit,” Lutjen said. “She knows that, and that’s something that you’re not going to work on during the season because it’s a drastic change. You work on it in the summer.
“I think Jillian can … really rise to the next level with the top echelon of players in our division if over the summer or during the winter months does some speed and agility training. I think that could really bring her up to the same level of the top girls that she is playing.”
Prior to Monday’s match, Dinowitz spent time working with the middle school team during its practice. Her seventh-grade sister, Katie, plays for the middle school team. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to just help them and guide them through their season,” said Dinowitz, who is applying for membership in the National Honor Society.
Tennis has been a part of Dinowitz’ life ever since she first played when she was in kindergarten.
“It’s kind of an individual sport, which really I enjoy the most about it,” she said. “You have your team and you have a part in that team and you have an opportunity and, I don’t know, it’s kind of relaxing to me. I really like it.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s first singles player, Jillian Dinowitz, works with middle school players during their practice prior to her match Monday. (Credit: Bob Liepa)