Winning a county championship is a hard feat. Between competing throughout the regular season, to having to face the toughest opponents in the individual tournament, capturing a county title is a task that requires mental toughness and the ability to adjust from match-to-match.
So having to switch surfaces and locations in the middle of the tournament adds another obstacle to overcome, and that is just what Longwood’s Victoria Matos had to do this season.
The first two days of the Suffolk County Sectional Individual Championships took place outdoors on the hard courts of Smithtown East High School, but rain forced the finals to be moved indoors to the Har-Tru clay courts of the Long Island Health & Racquet Club in Setauket.
Longwood’s Victoria Matos was able to overcome those challenges, and fought back from a set down to defeat Kira Kronenberg of Ward Melville 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and claim the county singles title for a second straight season.
“It’s definitely different,” said Matos. “Playing outdoors on the hard courts, the pace is a lot faster, and then coming here to play on the indoor clay was an adjustment. This is the club where I train, so I am used to it, and you just have to make sure you adjust your feet with every shot.”
Between the new surface and location and the pressure of repeating as county champion, Matos came out of the gates a bit slow in the opening set. To add to that, Kronenberg came to play and used her defensive prowess to chase down a lot of Matos’ shots, and pulled away late to win the first set.
“She was playing great and digging for every ball,” said Matos. “I just had to keep rallying with her and try to stay consistent. When I did that, it helped me out mentally. I just had to forget the first set completely and reset.”
Longwood’s head coach Justin Firenze added:
“She was a little bit anxious and going for it very early in the points. We talked about slowing down, working the point more, and being patiently aggressive. We talked about still going for her shots, but working the point more and then going for it. Once she did and that settled down, she was playing her game.”
Matos would turn the tide in the match, jumping out to an early break advantage in the second set and never looking back to force the deciding third set. She would secure a key break for a 4-2 lead in the second set, and closed out the championship a few games later.
“It was a little nerve-wracking early, having everyone here watching you, and my private coach was here, and then I dropped the first set,” she said. “I was a little tight in the beginning but happy that I was able to come through, and it feels great to be able to win it here. I guess I love those three-set finals; it feels great and I’m excited to go to the state championships now.”
In the third-place match, Smithtown East’s Anya Konopka defeated Maria Perez of Middle Country.
The doubles championships were completed at Smithtown East High School, with the tandem of Julia Stabile & Matilda Buchen of Westhampton Beach claiming the county title. The duo defeated Bayport-Blue Point’s Emilia Romano & Ella Romano in the championship.
The third-place match was an all-Harborfields affair, with the team of Aya Deckman & Josie Rudloff beating Isabella Frangione & Victoria Frangione.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.