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.