05/27/15 1:00pm
05/27/2015 1:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (25-0), who hasn't had to play a third set this season, is the Suffolk County singles champion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (25-0), who hasn’t had to play a third set this season, is the Suffolk County singles champion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Chris Kuhnle had not been extended to a third set all season, so why should things have changed for the Suffolk County boys tennis individual tournament? The Shoreham-Wading River junior lived up to his No. 1 seed, beating all four opponents he faced to capture the county singles title.

Kuhnle defeated the No. 2 seed, Stephen Gruppuso of Bayport-Blue Point, 6-2, 6-3, in the final last Wednesday at William Floyd High School. The result brought Kuhnle’s record to 25-0 and made him the first Shoreham boy to win a county crown since Christopher Cahill, who accomplished the feat over 20 years ago, according to Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen. (more…)

05/11/15 5:06pm
05/11/2015 5:06 PM
Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (20-0), who hasn't been pushed to three sets this season, won the Division IV singles championship. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (20-0), who hasn’t been pushed to three sets this season, won the Division IV singles championship. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION IV CHAMPIONSHIPS

Chris Kuhnle said it wasn’t easy. The scores may suggest otherwise, but Kuhnle said winning the Suffolk County Division IV singles championship on Monday was hard work, something he is not a stranger to.

Hard work, Kuhnle said, is what has brought his tennis game to where it is. The Shoreham-Wading River High School junior, the top-seeded player in the division tournament, reached the final for the second year in a row. The only difference is this time he was the one presented with the keepsake tournament bracket that goes to the champion. (more…)

03/27/15 5:00pm
03/27/2015 5:00 PM
Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

 

PREVIEW

Debbie Lutjen, who coached the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys tennis team from 1986 to 1995, has returned to the Wildcats, taking over the team from Chris Bevelander.

Lutjen, who also coaches Shoreham’s girls tennis team, was asked if she noticed any changes in the boys game since she last coached the Shoreham boys.

“I think it’s changed in the same way that girls tennis has,” she said. “The top players are putting more time in out of season and playing year-round, so that’s raising the overall level of the players we have competing.” (more…)

04/22/14 6:59pm
04/22/2014 6:59 PM
Riverhead freshman Jens Summerlin in action against Southold/Greenport senior Dylan Stromski on Tuesday. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Riverhead freshman Jens Summerlin in action against Southold/Greenport senior Dylan Stromski on Tuesday. (Credit: Garret Meade)

CLIPPERS 7, BLUE WAVES 0

Dylan Stromski had a choice to make before the high school boys tennis season started. The Southold/Greenport senior, who was an All-County doubles player last year along with Will Richter, had the choice of remaining at doubles or switching to singles. Doubles would have been the safe pick, but Stromski opted to play singles for the first time since he was a freshman.  (more…)

04/07/14 8:46pm
04/07/2014 8:46 PM
Parker Tuthill brought Mattituck one of its three wins at singles, defeating Shoreham-Wading River's Brandon Porcele in two sets. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Parker Tuthill brought Mattituck one of its three wins at singles, defeating Shoreham-Wading River’s Brandon Porcele in two sets. (Credit: Garret Meade)

TUCKERS 4 1/2, WILDCATS 2 1/2

Tiebreakers in tennis are pressure situations. Tiebreakers in a decisive third set are even tougher still.

With a light rain falling on a wet court and a chill hanging in the air, Ty Bugdin and Sean Granberg felt the heat. Then they responded. (more…)

03/12/14 11:00am
03/12/2014 11:00 AM
Riverhead captain Steve Velasquez and his teammates enjoyed a break in the weather during Tuesday's practice. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Riverhead captain Steve Velasquez and his teammates enjoyed a break in the weather during Tuesday’s practice. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Early preseason practices can be stressful enough for high school boys tennis coaches who feel the pressure of the clock as they hurry to ready their teams for the coming season. Positions need to be filled, challenge matches need to be played and lineups need to be determined, all with the sense that the calendar is working against them. The date of that first match gets closer by the day.  (more…)

05/06/13 7:26pm
05/06/2013 7:26 PM

Thirty-two tennis players made up the field of the Division IV singles tournament at William Floyd High School. When Shoreham-Wading River freshman Chris Kuhnle began his final match of the tournament Monday afternoon, it was only fitting his opponent happened to be the one player he’s faced the most in his career, Andrew Reiley of Eastport-South Manor.

“I’ve definitely had the most matches against him,” Kuhnle said.

It was no surprise then when the two players dug through a long, grinding first set in the consolation final Monday for third place in Division IV. On an adjacent court, the first-place match was already wrapped up before Kuhnle and Reiley reached the conclusion of set one.

When it was over, Kuhnle emerged the victor, taking the tiebreaker 7-4 to give himself a much needed deep breath before the second set.

“He gives me a good match,” Kuhnle said. “He’s a good pair up against my game. We kind of clash. I’m a variation and he likes to keep it consistent.”

Kuhnle raced out a 3-0 lead in the second set before Reiley got it back to within one at 4-3. But he bounced back to secure the final two points and put the match away, securing third place for the second straight year.

Both players advance to the county tournament beginning this weekend at Smithtown East High School. The top four finishers from each division earn a spot at counties to make up the 16-player field.

It was the second straight year Kuhnle and Reiley, a senior, faced in the division consolation final. Kuhnle won last year as well.

Coming into the tournament Kuhnle said his goal was to make it to the semifinals and secure a spot in the county tournament.

“I was hoping maybe to get to the finals,” he said. “I beat the kid I played in the semis a few days before, but it was a really good match. He had a really good day.”

Kuhnle lost to Kevin Cino of Westhampton Saturday, 6-0, 6-3. Kuhnle had beaten him April 29 in a regular season match.

But on a windy day Saturday, the bigger Cino had the advantage with his strong serve.

“Someone hitting that powerful is a little tough for me to hit back,” Kuhnle said. “Especially when he had the wind it was like playing two times harder.”

The No. 2 seed in the bracket, Kuhnle won three matches — all in straight sets — to advance to the semifinals.

At some points during Monday’s match, when the play began to get away from Kuhnle, he would try to rally himself by yelling at himself on the court.

“I’m just a young and it’s a way to get my thoughts out,” he said, smiling after the match was over. “It keeps my focused. I’ll have to find a better way to do that in the future.”

Last year Kuhnle won his first match at the county tournament and he’ll look to take it one step further this time.

No matter he ends up in the bracket, the competition will be stiff when the top players from the county convene for one tournament.

“Other kids I know from tournaments, they’re very good players,” Kuhnle said. “It’s going to be a lot tougher there.”

The Wildcats had three doubles teams play in the division tournament. The duo of Tom Stridiron and Nick West won their first match before losing. And the doubles team of Doug and Charles DeMaio won its first match before losing.

Top-seeded Cooper Lacetera of Westhampton won the singles title Monday against his teammate, Cino.

joew@timesreview.com

04/08/13 6:10pm
04/08/2013 6:10 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's first singles player, Garrett Malave, ran his record to 4-0 on Monday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s first singles player, Garrett Malave, ran his record to 4-0 on Monday.

TUCKERS 7, BLUE WAVES 0

Like updated computer software or the latest release of a video game, the 2013 version of Garrett Malave, the tennis player, can be advertised as bigger and better.

It’s fun to watch Malave play tennis — unless you’re the player he’s playing against.

Malave, a freshman in his second year as Mattituck’s first singles player, is one of the better players in Suffolk County and quite possibly the best in League VIII. Physical maturity has something to do with that.

“Little boys grow up,” said Mattituck coach Mike Huey.

And young players grow into their game.

Malave said he has worked on his footwork and is doing more bending to return low shots. The results so far speak for themselves. Malave, along with two of the team’s other top three singles players, Parker Tuthill and Andrew Young, all raised their records to 4-0 Monday with wins in the Tuckers’ 7-0 defeat of visiting Riverhead.

As expected, Malave was impressive, using 17 service aces and 14 winners to help him to a 6-0, 6-2 win over eighth grader Jens Summerlin in a first-singles match that was completed in 43 minutes. Malave limited Summerlin to only 5 points in the first set, which was over in 15 minutes.

Putting 86 percent of his second serves in play, Malave committed only three double faults.

Summerlin, who earned Riverhead’s top singles position after senior Seth Conrad sprained an ankle, has had an eye-opening experience. Monday’s match was only his second at No. 1 singles, and it was an education for him. He said he had never played against a player of Malave’s caliber before.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead eighth grader Jens Summerlin has worked his way to the first singles position following an ankle injury suffered by senior Seth Conrad.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead eighth grader Jens Summerlin has worked his way to the first singles position following an ankle injury suffered by senior Seth Conrad.

“He plays very well, a lot of topspin on his balls, and his serve was just outrageous,” Summerlin said. “I could barely handle it.”

To his credit, Summerlin produced some nice shots of his own, and won back-to-back games in the second set to pull to within 3-2. But Malave’s quality was too much for the young Riverheader.

“He’s grown up, and he’s getting bigger, stronger and faster, and he’s making those adjustments,” Huey said of Malave. “As you can see, he doesn’t get cheated on his swing. He’s going for broke on every single shot.”

Plus, Malave has something else in his favor. He has talented teammates in Tuthill and Young, who give him good competition in practice.

“They have the ability to play Garrett tough, so every practice is a challenging practice,” Huey said. “He doesn’t get any days off. He’s got to work hard and he’s pushed every single day, and that makes you match tough.”

Tuthill and Young turned in two-set wins as well. Tuthill, playing second singles, blanked Nick Toharz, 6-0, 6-0, and Young beat Steve Velasquez, 6-1, 6-0.

Thomas Chatin (3-1) brought Mattituck (4-0 overall and in League VIII) a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Dillon Fava Wiggins at fourth singles.

The two-set theme continued in the three doubles matches, which were also swept by Mattituck: Charles Hickox and Kevin Schwartz defeated Mike Haynia and Kyle Helgans, 6-1, 6-2; James Rabkevich and Steve Urwand recorded a 6-0, 6-2 win over Kurt Divan and Edgar Garcia; and Nick Rabkevich and Tyler Rozhen downed Nick Giannillo and Jordy Perez, 6-0, 6-0.

Mattituck was coming off a significant 4-3 triumph over Longwood on Friday, a result that gave the defending league champion the inside track on this year’s league crown.

“That was huge for us,” said Huey.

Nick Rabkevich, playing in his first varsity match, and Rozhen provided the decisive point, getting the better of Longwood’s Jon Cruz and Matt Covati, 6-3, 6-2, at third doubles. Malave did his part that day, scoring a 6-1, 6-2 result over Indranel Mitra.

The temporary loss of Conrad is one Riverhead (0-4, 0-4) can ill afford. The team’s three returning players from last year are the only ones with any prior tennis-playing experience at all.

Riverhead coach Bob Lum said he hoped to have Conrad back in a week or so. In the meantime, Summerlin is getting a tennis education at first singles.

“He is talented,” Lum said of Summerlin, whose older brother Adrian and older sister Robyn both played for Riverhead. “It’s just that he needs some drive time out there. He needs to play more. It’s a learning process. There are no shortcuts. You’re going to have to get a beating now and then if you want to get good.”

Malave can relate what it’s like since he, too, played first singles as an eighth grader. “You’re versing the best tennis player in every school,” he said.

Summerlin, asked how he thought he did Monday, replied, “Not that well.”

Surely, though, there are better days ahead for him. Malave thinks so.

“He has really nice form,” Malave said. “I just feel that once he gets stronger, he’ll be able to return a lot of balls. He’s going to be good in a few years, like really good.”

bliepa@timesreview.com