07/31/13 10:00am
07/31/2013 10:00 AM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is seeking his seventh straight title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

Steve Paskiewicz earned a place in the men’s singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 semifinal defeat of No. 3 seed Richard Anderson. Paskiewicz will play the No. 1 seed Chris Ujkic in Saturday’s final at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic. Ujkic is seeking his seventh straight men’s singles championship and 19th title overall in the tournament.

The women’s singles final will pit Rosemary Krocke against Kate Freudenberg.

Richard Chizever will get a chance to defend his title in the men’s 50-plus singles division thanks to his 6-0, 6-0 semifinal win over No. 3 Tom Cahill. No. 4 John Czartosieski recovered to take down Andrezej Kopala in a three-setter, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

Saturday will be a busy day for Chizever. He will also play in the men’s 50-plus doubles final along with his partner, Bob Lum. The top-seeded pair will be matched against No. 2 Tom Cahill and Ed Lee. Chizever and Lum beat No. 4 Richard Brooks and Mark McDuffy, 6-0, 6-0, in the semifinals.

All of Saturday’s finals will be played at Robert W. Tasker Park, starting with the women’s singles final and the men’s 50-plus doubles match at 8 a.m. The men’s singles final is set for 10 a.m., with the men’s 50-plus singles contest to go at 11 a.m.


07/30/13 3:16pm
07/30/2013 3:16 PM

Richard Chizever’s late father, Larry, was well known in the Riverhead area for being a tennis player, a coach and a fun-loving person. But he was also a consummate competitor and a relentless trash talker.

“He did it in a nice way,” Richard said. “He would get under your skin, though.”

Richard recalled an incident about 33 years ago when he and his father drove to Mattituck High School to play a match against each other. As was his custom, Larry found a way to agitate his son during the match. “I was so ticked off at him, I wouldn’t drive home with him,” Richard said. “I walked all the way home to Riverhead.”

The occasional trash talking aside, Richard learned a lot from his father, who he lost about nine years ago. Larry suffered a massive stroke while in recovery from a bilateral hip replacement. He remained in a vegetative condition for six years before he died.

The passion Larry had for tennis, though, lives on in his son. Larry was a standout football and baseball player in Brooklyn. After moving to Riverhead, he was turned on to tennis and became hooked. He encouraged his son to play.

Richard, 57, continues playing the sport he was introduced to by his father. A former Riverhead High School player, Richard figures he has been playing tennis seriously for 44 years. Aside from the occasional aches and pains those on the older side of 50 typically experience, he said his conditioning has improved since he hurt his back in a tournament this past February. “Right now I’m playing some of the best tennis I’ve played in my life,” he said.

On Saturday, the second-seeded Chizever will defend his men’s 50-plus singles title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament when he will play No. 4 seed John Czartosieski at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic. It was Czartosieski who ousted Chizever in the first round of men’s open singles, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Chizever and his men’s 50-plus doubles partner, Bob Lum, will also play in a final on Saturday. That top-seeded duo will be seeking its fifth men’s 50-plus doubles title when they go up against No. 2 Tom Cahill and Ed Lee.

“He’s my guru,” Chizever said of Lum, who is the Riverhead High School boys tennis coach. “He knows the game better than anybody I ever played with. He brings out the best in you.”

Interestingly, what Chizever learned most about tennis may have been less technical than mental. Larry was an unorthodox left-handed player, and Richard is a righty.

“He taught me more about the will to win than rather the actual strokes,” Richard said. “He was just a great competitor. He used to say it’s the fire in your belly. If you have the fire in your belly, you can win. He taught me how to enjoy the sport, how to go out there and win.”

Richard, who resides in Aquebogue and has worked as an optician in Southold for 27 years, learned a lot as a young player. He was among a group of high school players who played against older men in their 40s. “We really learned the finesse of a sport,” he said. “We used to tell coaches we played like old men.”

According to Richard, he hasn’t gone more than six months without playing since he first picked up a tennis racket. He said he regrets not having played tennis in college (Ohio University), but he values the friendships he made through tennis over the years. One of the things he likes best about tennis is the social component. He said it gives him the opportunity to play against people he otherwise would not have met.

And then, of course, there is the competition.

“It’s a sport that you use everything,” Chizever said. “You use every part of your body, including your mind.”

Jim Christy, the director of the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament, said Chizever symbolizes what the tournament is about.

“In Rich’s case, he just enters to have fun,” Christy said. “He moves along, but he has such a great disposition. He generally enjoys playing. It doesn’t matter whether the player is very strong or very weak. He never shows anybody up.”

Christy said he sees similarities between Richard and his father in terms of personality.

“His father was just an absolute gem of a man,” Christy said. “You could not not like Larry Chizever. He’d talk your ear off. He had such a great sense of humor.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Richard has heard people talk about his father and how he loved life many times before.

“People would come up to me and say you are lucky to have such a great father,” Richard said. “I would say to them, ‘You have no idea how lucky I was.’ ”


07/24/13 8:00pm
07/24/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men's open singles player in the United States Tennis Association's eastern section for nearly two years.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is two wins away from yet another singles title at the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

TENNIS: Chris Ujkic, the winner of six straight men’s singles titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament, is two wins away from making it seven straight championships.

The top-seeded Ujkic has a semifinal opponent awaiting him in John Czartosieski. Ujkic advanced by virtue of a 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal defeat of Greg Quist.

Czartosieski triumphed in three-setters in his last two matches, including a third-set tiebreaker over his quarterfinal opponent, fourth-seeded Eric Digons, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2). Prior to that, Czartosieski topped Richard Chizever, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The other semifinal will pit No. 2 seed Steve Paskiewicz against No. 3 Richard Anderson. They both scored two-set quarterfinal victories. Paskiewicz, an eight-time tournament champion and runner-up last year, blanked Southold High School standout Josh Robinson, 6-0, 6-0. Anderson was a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Jim Christy Jr.

Kate Freudenberg and Rosemary Krocke have a date to play in the women’s singles final. In the semifinals, Freudenberg beat Mary Beth Corazzini, 6-2, 6-0, and Krocke ousted Melissa Hickox, 6-2, 6-2.

Corazzini had reached the semifinals through an 8-10, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Dina Rose.

The defending men’s 50-plus singles champion, Richard Chizever, secured a semifinal place thanks to his 6-0, 6-0 defeat of John Rosselli. Chizever has a tough task ahead of him, though. His semifinal opponent will be the fourth-seeded Czartosieski, a 6-0, 6-1 quarterfinal winner over Myron Kaplan.

The two other quarterfinals were two-set affairs as well. The No. 1 seed, Andrzej Kopala, proved too much for David Newmark, winning by 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 Tom Cahill got the better of Mike Greene, 6-2, 6-2.

One half of the men’s 50-plus doubles final has been booked. The second-seeded Tom Cahill and Ed Lee have claimed that spot with their 6-4, 7-5 victory over the No. 3 pair of John Gregory and Richard Suter.

The finals of the tournament, which is sponsored by TimesReview Newsgroup, are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3, at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic.

GIRLS LACROSSE: Carrera comes up big for LI Carolyn Carrera played for Team Long Island at the Brine Classic National Championships in Boyds, Md., earlier this month. Carrera, who will be entering her senior year at Riverhead High School, had 2 goals, 1 assist, 6 draw controls, 2 ground balls, 3 takeaways and won 8 of 10 draws in a 9-3 championship game win over New Jersey.

RUNNING: 5K run in Cutchogue The Fleet’s Neck Property Owners Association will sponsor a 5K run in Cutchogue on Saturday, Aug. 17. The run will begin at 9 a.m. A family 5K run/walk will kick off at 9:05 a.m. at Pequash Park, tucked away at the end of Pequash Avenue and West Road in Cutchogue. The course offers scenic views of Peconic Bay, creeks and wetlands. The event will help support the maintenance and restoration of the Fleet’s Neck Beach.

The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 9. Pre-registration fees are $25 for runners ages 16 to 65 and $15 for runners under 16 or over 65. The day of race registration is $30.

For online registration, go to www.islandrunning.net. For more information, e-mail fleetsneck5k@gmail.com or phone (631) 734-8027.

05/08/13 8:00am
05/08/2013 8:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men's open singles player in the United States Tennis Association's eastern section for nearly two years.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men’s open singles player in the United States Tennis Association’s eastern section for nearly two years.

Say this about Chris Ujkic, he is a man of surprises.

Ujkic said he was only an average student when he attended Mattituck High School. He went on to graduate at the top of his class at Sacred Heart University (Conn.), summa cum laude. He has since scored in the 96 percentile on the law school admissions test and will attend New York Law this fall on a rare full scholarship. He currently works for the Manhattan law firm of Lackey, Hershman LLP.

As hard as it is to believe now, Ujkic, 24, said he was overweight when he was younger. A couple of months ago, he entered his first bodybuilding competition — and took first place!

As busy as Ujkic is, one might naturally assume that he sleeps like a log. Not true. “My sleep is horrendous,” he said, estimating that he gets only between four and a half to six hours of shut-eye a night.

And then there is something that is not nearly so surprising, but impressive nonetheless.

Ujkic was recognized last Wednesday as the No. 1 ranked men’s open singles player in the United States Tennis Association’s eastern section. He was presented with a trophy bearing his name and ranking at an awards ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Westbury. It is not the first time that Ujkic has been the section’s top-ranked player, but he said this is the longest he has held the ranking, nearly two years.

Fitness has been a part of Ujkic’s game ever since he reigned on Mattituck High School’s courts and then starred for Sacred Heart. He said he is fitter than ever and, as a result, unafraid to go for winners, knowing he can rely on his legs to outlast opponents should he fall behind.

“Fitness used to be my number one weapon, the speed around the court, my defense,” he said last week during a 71-minute phone interview. “Now I’m even fitter. I can fall back on fitness even more, can defend until those guys’ legs fall off.”

Ujkic’s life is a busy mix of tennis, law, nutrition and bodybuilding. All require hard work and commitment, and he is afraid of neither.

Last summer Ujkic’s tennis playing took a back seat to studying. He spent months with his head buried in law books, preparing for the biggest academic challenge of his life, the law school admissions test. He was undeterred by the difficulty. Ujkic describes his attitude as: “I can do whatever I want. There’s nothing that’s going to stop me.”

After passing the test, he applied to over 20 law schools before gaining the full scholarship from New York Law.

COURTESY PHOTO | Chris Ujkic posing with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in the background after grabbing first place in his first bodybuilding competition.

COURTESY PHOTO | Chris Ujkic posing with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in the background after grabbing first place in his first bodybuilding competition.

Ujkic, who lives in Astoria Park, undoubtedly knows more than most people about nutrition. He has read over 40 books on the subject and, referring to his younger days when he was overweight, “I’ve tried every diet under the sun.”

Ujkic said he eats a lot, but he eats healthy. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t allow himself a treat like ice cream every now and then. He does make room in his diet for one weakness: popcorn.

“I’m a popcorn addict,” he said.

Popcorn, he said, gives him energy. “That’s what I keep on telling myself at least,” he said.

Coupled with the dieting are the punishing, “masochistic” workouts Ujkic puts himself through.

Recently, Ujkic has tried bodybuilding, and enjoyed virtually immediate results. He entered a competition in March and, after two and half hours, walked away with the first-place trophy. “I happened to look like the judges wanted that day,” he said.

Ujkic is looking forward to another bodybuilding competition next month. He said he will be in the best condition of his life for that one.

“I’m kind of pushing myself so much harder in the gym,” he said. “I’m a little bit bigger and little bit more cut than I was the previous show.”

With all his activity, Ujkic keeps others updated on his latest developments through social media. He said he has 21,000 people following him on Twitter.

Ujkic said he keeps in mind the sacrifices family and friends have made for him as he tries to get the most out of life. He does have one complaint, though, a result of all his workouts and tennis matches. “My laundry sucks,” he said.

When he played for Mattituck, Ujkic was known for his enthusiasm for tennis and always being on the lookout for an opponent to play against. He said that enthusiasm remains.

Ujkic came within two matches of qualifying for the U.S. Open last year. In a United States Tennis Association qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open, Ujkic won three matches before being narrowly defeated by professional journeyman Mehdy Karbid of Morocco, 6-4, 7-5.

Undeterred, Ujkic said he will enter the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open once again this year.

Many may know Ujkic as a standout tennis player, but there is much more to Ujkic than tennis. He is friendly, generous with his time and happy to dispense advice on nutrition and other matters.

“He’s one of a kind,” said Kieran Corcoran, a tennis player from Tenafly, N.J., and a lawyer who is Ujkic’s boss at Lackey, Hershman LLP and a friend. “He’s got a lot of bandwidth.”

Corcoran, who is 20 years Ujkic’s senior, has known him for about 11 years. He said Ujkic has self-confidence mixed with an eagerness to learn from others.

“He has a desire to be excellent, and that’s a genuine desire,” Corcoran said. “He has a fierce determination to do well.”

And, oh yeah, there is one more quality about Ujkic that stands out: He is relentless. “You can’t teach relentless,” said Corcoran.

Ujkic’s manner is conducive to making friends. “He’s a really nice guy and he’s very friendly without being obsequious or fake,” Corcoran said. “So people are attracted to him. People want to be around him and share in his sunshine.”

In the meantime, life is good for Ujkic. He said he will once again play in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament this summer. He has won six straight men’s open singles championships and 18 titles overall (including men’s doubles and mixed doubles) in the tournament, which is sponsored by TimesReview Newsgroup.

“I’m playing a lot of tennis,” he said, “I’m eating a lot of food, and I’m very excited about eating popcorn tonight.”


08/04/12 4:18pm
08/04/2012 4:18 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Men’s doubles champions Kieran Corcoran, left, and Chris Ujkic bump fists after winning a point in their match versus Steve Paskiewicz and Roger Ross.


Given his druthers, Chris Ujkic probably would have preferred spending his Saturday preparing to play in the U.S. Open later this month rather than defending his three titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. And if that sounds far-fetched to you, please know this: Earlier this summer, the former Mattituck High School and Sacred Heart University star came within two matches of qualifying for the big show at Flushing Meadows.

But first, defend his Wall Tournament titles at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic he did, and most impressively. Relying on his astounding quickness and a 16-year-age advantage, Ujkic won his sixth consecutive men’s open singles championship, 6-1, 6-1, over 39-year-old, eight-time open singles champion Steve Paskiewicz, the former Riverhead High School standout.

By also teaming up to win the men’s open doubles and mixed doubles titles, Ujkic raised his Wall Tournament title count to 18 since he first triumphed as a 17-year-old Mattituck High School junior six years ago. In men’s open doubles, he and another former Mattituck High School tennis standout, Kieran Corcoran, won for the seventh year in a row, defeating Paskiewicz and Roger Ross, 6-3, 6-2. And in mixed doubles, Ujkic defended his title with a new partner, Denise Cardinale, 6-1, 6-0, over the brother-and-sister tandem of Rich Chizever and Iris Battino.

Chizever gained some significant consolation earlier in the day, however, toughing out a right hamstring injury to rally past the defending men’s 50-and-over singles champion, Andrezej Kopala, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

In the two other finals contested Saturday, East Hampton resident Dahlia Aman returned to the North Fork after an absence of many years to win her 14th — yes, count ’em, 14! — women’s singles title, and Tom Cahill and Leo Sternlicht avenged their loss in last year’s men’s 50-and-over doubles final, capturing their fifth such championship, 6-2, 6-4, over Jerry Duvall and Ed Yakaboski.

Aman’s victory was a little less straight forward. Her patented moon ball, error-free style of play was effective at first against Liz Rossi, the former Bishop McGann-Mercy High School star who is entering her junior year at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Aman won the first set, 6-3, but exceedingly long rallies — at least two of which exceeded 100 strokes — and the 90-degrees-plus temperatures began to catch up to the veteran player, who declines to give her chronological age but admits to being more than old enough to be the 19-year-old Rossi’s mother. In fact, Rossi rallied to knot the second set at five games apiece before she was forced to retire in order to fulfill a work-related assignment in Southampton. Aman, who actually exited the court and sat down in the shade during a second-set scoring dispute with umpire Jim Christy, wasn’t complaining that the match didn’t go to a third set.

Ujkic’s singles win over Paskiewicz was not as one-sided as the score might suggest. Their baseline rallies were fast and furious, and Paskiewicz most likely would have won easily against any other player entered in the tournament. But Ujkic isn’t “any other player,” as his recent performance in a United States Tennis Association qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open proved. In that event, contested in mid-June, Ujkic won three matches before being narrowly defeated by professional journeyman Mehdy Karbid of Morocco, 6-4, 7-5. Which means Christ Ujkic came within two matches of qualifying to play in the grand slam tournament. And that success has encouraged him to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis, while at the same time continuing to study for an October date with the LSAT law school entrance exam.

TOURNAMENT NOTES Due to a lack of entries, there was no women’s doubles competition again this year.

The 2012 Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament is sponsored by Times/Review News Group of Mattituck and directed, on a volunteer basis, by Mattituck High School’s longtime girls tennis coach, Jim Christy. Proceeds from this year’s event support a scholarship awarded to 2012 Mattituck High School graduate Erica Bundrick, who will attend St. Michael’s College in Vermont this fall.

11/02/10 8:02pm
11/02/2010 8:02 PM

DIX HILLS — The Bishop McGann-Mercy High School girls tennis team’s magical ride finally reached an end.

After opening the Suffolk County Team Tournament with a pair of upsets, 24th-seeded McGann-Mercy ran into a wall in the form of the top-seeded Half Hollow Hills East Thunderbirds on a cool, windy Friday afternoon.

Hills East, seeking a return to the county final for the second year in a row, swept all three doubles matches and took three of the four singles contests for a 6-1 quarterfinal win over McGann-Mercy.

It concluded an adventurous tournament for McGann-Mercy, which had toppled the No. 9 Patchogue-Medford Raiders and the No. 8 West Islip Lions en route to their first appearance in the county quarterfinals.

Following her match, one of McGann-Mercy’s first doubles players, senior Kayleigh Macchirole, was asked if it had sunk in that she had played her last high school contest.

“Not yet,” she said. “I’ll probably start crying when it hits me.”

“This season has been amazing,” she continued. “Everybody has picked up their game so much. I didn’t expect to make it this far and [my teammates] made this season so great for me because they made it memorable.”

It was all so unexpected. The Monarchs had lost seven players from last year’s team, including the entire slate of starting singles players. Regardless, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, they won the League VIII championship and finished among the top eight teams in the county with a 16-3 record.

Even so, McGann-Mercy Coach Mike Clauberg was so upset about how the Monarchs played in their final match that he wasn’t ready to dwell on the achievements. He said it was, without a doubt, the team’s worst match of the season.

“The fundamental mistakes, the errors that were going on today, I was in complete shock,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

He added: “Right now I’m hurt that I don’t think that we played to our potential . . . but at the end of the day, when you look at how far we’ve gone and how much we’ve accomplished, for the first time in school history making it to the elite eight in Suffolk County, yeah, I got to say it’s a good season. Right now, I don’t want to think about that.”

Hills East followed up the victory with a 4-3 decision over the No. 5 Commack Cougars on Saturday. With their third win over Commack this year, the Thunderbirds set up a rematch in the county final against their rivals and fellow League I co-champions, the No. 2 Half Hollow Hills West Colts on Monday at Smithtown East High School. For the second year in a row, Hills West (18-1) defeated Hills East for the county title, 4 1/2-2 1/2.

Even before the final, the painful memory of last year’s loss in the county final to the last team in the world that it wanted to lose to was still fresh in the minds of the Thunderbirds (15-2).

“Yeah, it was horrible,” said Samantha Elgort, Hills East’s first singles player who took second recently in the county individual championships. “It was even worse that it was [losing] to them. It was bad, awful.”

For Hills East, anything short of a county championship was going to be a disappointment. The only loss Hills East or Hills West suffered during the regular season was to each other; they both beat other by 4-3 scores.

“The kids who have been here know what it means to play and beat West,” Hills East Coach Tom Depelteau said. “The victories are sweeter and the defeats are tough to take.”

In Hills East’s win over McGann-Mercy, Elgort, a senior in her sixth varsity season and fifth as a first singles player, did not concede a game as she handled her first-singles opponent, Ashley Yakaboski, 6-0, 6-0. Elgort, who was sixth in New York State last year, made good use of sharp-angled shots and outpointed Yakaboski, 48-12. She won five games without conceding a point.

“More than anything else, she’ll keep the point going,” Depelteau said of Elgort. “She’s willing to hit the ball a hundred times.”

Singles players Ludmila Yamus and Vanessa Scott also supplied Hills East with routine two-set wins. Yamus stopped Elizabeth Barlow in second singles, 6-0, 6-2, and Scott registered a 6-1, 6-1 decision over Lindsay Merker in fourth singles.

Hills East’s sweep of the doubles matches killed McGann-Mercy’s hopes of a third straight upset. The first doubles pairing of Zareena Hamrah and Ali Nemeth defeated Erica Blanco and Macchirole, 6-3, 7-5. Justine De Luise and Rachel Katims were winners at second doubles, beating Taryn Enck and Shannon Merker, 6-4, 6-1. Jordana Cohen teamed up with Molly Ripp to down Stefanie Blanco and Maryann Naleski, 6-3, 6-3.

McGann-Mercy received its only point from its third singles player, Cassidy Lessard. In what might have been the best match of the day, Lessard topped Amanda Loper, 6-1, 7-5 (10-7).


10/28/10 7:37pm
10/28/2010 7:37 PM

WEST ISLIP — Lindsay Merker could handle the pressure she faced on the tennis court. It was what followed after the match that caught her off-guard.

After Merker delivered the result that enabled the Bishop McGann-Mercy High School girls tennis team to play another day, she was mobbed by joyous teammates. The surge of emotion she felt was evidenced by the tears of joy that rolled down her cheeks.

It was Merker’s dramatic victory in her fourth singles match that earned the Monarchs a rare place in the quarterfinals of the Suffolk County Team Tournament. The senior pulled out a tiebreaker triumph over Kate Winter, lifting 24th-seeded McGann-Mercy to a 4-3 upset of the No. 8 West Islip Lions on Thursday.

With what has to be considered one of the biggest wins in team history, League VIII champion McGann-Mercy (16-2) claimed a place in the quarterfinals tomorrow against the No. 1 Half Hollow Hills East Thunderbirds (13-1). McGann-Mercy Coach Mike Clauberg said it is either the first or second time that the Monarchs have advanced this far in the team tournament.

“I’m still in shock,” Merker, who called it the greatest moment of her tennis career, said while cheers of the team’s happy fans could be heard in the background.

After coasting through the first set, 6-2, Merker took a 5-2 lead in the second set. Then things got interesting.

Winter recovered to win the next four games for a 6-5 lead, but failed to capitalize on four set points. Merker forced a tiebreaker and then cruised, 7-0.

Merker said she felt confident going into the tiebreaker. “It’s also mental because you have to never let yourself get down because once that happens, it’s all over,” she said. “You have to always stay mentally tough.”

Players and fans from both teams watched the final match of the day with great interest. Merker said she wasn’t aware of the significance of her match and was glad she didn’t. But she liked the cheering, which she said helped her focus.

“I knew I had to stop her and not let her beat me for a third set,” Merker said. “I made a lot of errors that I shouldn’t have made, like drop shots, but errors happen. No one’s perfect.”

Clauberg said he was happy for Merker.

“If I had to pick any kid to get that win for us, I would pick her,” he said. “She is just a coach’s dream. She’s a nice person. She works so hard during the off-season, probably [the] most committed tennis player I have on the team.”

West Islip Coach Kevin Lewis said the performance by Winter was typical of her in the sense that she is a battler. The coach said that during the match he gave Winter some advice. “I said, ‘All I want you to do is stay focused and try your best,’ ” Lewis said. “I said, ‘If you try your best, that’s all you can ask of yourself.’ ”

Merker can thank her sister, Shannon, for the part she played in helping set up the pivotal fourth singles match. It was Shannon Merker and Taryn Enck who brought McGann-Mercy a vital win at second doubles, tying the team score at 3-3. They prevailed in three sets over Kelly Kickel and Teresa Oskinis, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Thanks to wins from the first three singles matches, League III champion West Islip (13-2) held a 3-2 lead in team points.

Despite troubling back pain that hampered her serve, Erin Collins, a senior transfer from nearby St. John the Baptist, persevered in a 6-3, 6-2 defeat over Ashley Yakaboski in first singles. Collins put only 64 percent of her first serves in play, but she also committed only two double faults and broke Yakaboski’s serve six times.

In Yakaboski, a virtual ball-return machine, Collins was facing a player much like herself.

“All defense,” said Collins, who had ice taped to her back after the match. “That’s kind of the style that I play, so when I play with someone with the same style, the points are going on forever.”

The other two singles matches were settled in two sets as well. Sam Sienkiewicz was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Elizabeth Barlow, and Kerri Coughlin recorded a 7-5, 6-0 win over Cassidy Lessard.

But doubles has been a point of emphasis for McGann-Mercy this year, and it has made a difference. The Monarchs took all three points from doubles.

The first doubles team of Erica Blanco and Kayleigh Macchirole produced a 7-5, 7-5 defeat of Ibrianna Frame and Amanda Gedrey. In third doubles, Stefanie Blanco and Maryann Naleski downed Emma Lytell and Alia Rafig, 6-4, 6-1.

“Everybody contributed in such a strong way,” Clauberg said. “Everybody fought.”

West Islip had won all five of its previous 4-3 matches this season, but this one went against the Lions.

Shock waves may reverberate throughout the county because of this result, but the Monarchs are not surprised. Some of them said they were just underestimated. The Monarchs might have proved that their 4-3 victory over the No. 9 Patchogue-Medford Raiders in an outbracket match seven days earlier was no fluke.

“We’re pretty good,” Lindsay Merker said. “We have some good players.”

West Islip wouldn’t argue that point.


10/27/10 7:18pm
10/27/2010 7:18 PM

The turning point came midway through the first set.

Mattituck ‘s Erica Bundrick was leading Karen Serena, the No. 3-seed from East Islip, 3-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Suffolk County girls tennis individual championship Monday afternoon at Smithtown East. Bundrick, who had beaten Bayport’s Laura Torsiello, 6-4, 6-2, in the opening round on Saturday, was on the verge of taking a 4-1 lead against Serena.

But after Bundrick’s being on a marvelous roll the past three weeks, the one stroke that betrayed her was her serve. She double-faulted, which allowed Serena to climb back into the match at 3-2. Serena then ran the table on Bundrick, winning the match 6-3, 6-0.

“I was pleased with the way Erica played,” Mattituck coach Jim Christy said. “She just double faulted too many times. You just can’t give away points at critical moments.”

Christy said that part of Bundrick’s maturation process will be learning how to “deal with the highs and lows of a match.”

Bundrick, a junior, swept past Torsiello in the opening match.

“Erica played every point like it was the final point of the match,” Christy said. “She has learned that when you stay in the present, it brings consistency. When your head is set right, the strokes will follow.”

Christy said that Bundrick has learned that “when she is consistent, she can play with anybody.”

“The key is recognizing our potential,” he said. “If we don’t see it, we hold back and don’t play with confidence. Erica is a very good athlete. When she realized in the East Hampton match a few weeks ago that ‘I can play with these people,’ everything changed. She was able to move people around and make them change their game. Someone was going to break, but it wasn’t going to be her.”

In the Suffolk County team championship, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs, the 24th-seed, pulled off an upset in the opening round on Oct. 21, winning at ninth-seeded Patchogue-Medford, 4-3.

Mike Clauberg, the Mercy coach, called the win “huge.”

Clauberg said that over the years he has felt his team has not always been seeded as high as it should have been.
“We’ve been in the playoffs the past couple of years, but we still get no respect,” he said. “But we still got the win. It was a big upset.”

Mercy was trailing in the overall match 3-2 and needed to win at second singles and second doubles to pull out the team victory.

The Monarchs had lost two of the first three singles matches, as Patchogue-Medford’s Hanna Lazio swept Mercy’s Ashley Yakaboski, 6-0, 6-0, and Alena Erhart topped Lindsey Merker, 6-1, 6-4. Mercy’s Cassidy Lessard topped Alicia Kraemer, 6-1, 6-0. Clauberg said that Lessard “really stepped up. She was in the zone.”
Mercy then split the first two doubles matches, as the Monarchs’ Kayleigh Macchirole and Erica Blanco triumphed over Cristina Valente and Brigid Logan, 6-2, 6-2. Patchogue-Medford’s Sydney Shandel and Victoria Makolik beat Maryann Naleski and Stefanie Blanco, 6-2, 6-3.

The second singles and second doubles matches were deadlocked at one set apiece.

“We needed both to win in the third set,” Clauberg said, “and that is just what they did.”

The Monarchs’ Elizabeth Barlow came from behind to defeat Brianna Vernoia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

“After the first set, Elizabeth made the proper adjustments,” Clauberg said. “She really came up big.”

Now, it all came down to second doubles. Mercy’s Shannon Merker and Taryn Enck trailed Tiffany Maroquin and Kierstin Berwick 3-4 in the third set. But on a crucial stretch of points, Merker hit a magnificent lob and Enck put away the return shot to give the Monarchs the game and the momentum. Merker and Enck went on to win 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 to lift Mercy to the stunning upset.

Mercy was scheduled to play at eighth-seeded West Islip yesterday.