As the two-time defending Suffolk County singles’ champion, Westhampton Beach junior Rose Hayes is used to getting everybody’s best shot when they compete against her. Hayes has played with that burden since her freshman season but has yet to be tripped up, and this spring she captured her third consecutive county title.
“I was excited just to have a season. I love all the girls on my team so it was exciting to come back,” said Hayes. “In terms of counties, it’s always very stressful for me when you come back and you’re expected to win, and everybody is out to get you.”
Despite that, Hayes added to her county title collection by defeating Longwood’s Victoria Matos 6-3, 6-1 at the 2021 Suffolk County Girls’ Individual Championships.
"She was definitely more aggressive than some of the other players I’ve played recently," said Hayes, a junior at Westhampton. "You can’t give anything to her, and that really made me elevate my game.”
Matos presented Hayes with her biggest challenge this season, equaling her pace and keeping the ball deep as the majority of the exchanges between the two happened from the baseline. Hayes pushed ahead with a late break in the first set, and used her stellar defense to pull away from Matos in the second set.
Longwood sophomore Victoria Matos rips a forehand during the Suffolk County singles final
“Today she was on the defensive more than she was on the offensive, and that was an asset she really needed to rely on,” said Westhampton Beach head coach John Czartosieski. “It was rare that she was able to go on the attack. She was struggling a bit with nerves, I think she feels pressure to beat everybody 6-0, 6-0, and that pressure can work both ways. Sometimes it motivates you and other times it brings your level down. But Rose’s endurance and physical size has improved over the years, and while I don’t think she played her best match, she managed to win her third county title.”
Still a junior, Hayes will attempt to win a fourth county title later in her senior season later this year, but is more excited about continuing to be a part of the growing Westhampton Beach program.
“Westhampton is a really strong team,” she said. “We’re losing a couple of seniors which is always said, but we have some really good young players, and I think we’re going to be a strong team for at least another couple of years.”
Ward Melville's Kira Kronenberg beat Maria Perez of Middle Country 6-3, 6-3 in the third-place match.
Ward Melville's Kira Kronenberg
Middle Country's Maria Perez
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.