By Bill Landon
It was the strength of Comsewogue’s singles play that was the difference in a Sept. 11 matchup against Mount Sinai girls tennis, which the Warriors pulled away from 4-3 on the road.
Nikita Katukota, a junior, led the way for Comsewogue, outscoring her opponent 7-5, 6-2, which set the tone early.
“I thought I played pretty well — I was hitting the ball pretty hard, so I was happy with that,” she said. “I was more consistent. The first set was really tight, I was leading 2-1 on the second set but because of injury issues my [opponent] had to leave the court.”
Classmate Kaitlyn Musmacher, who had to dig her way out of a hole, rebounded from her first-set loss to win 6-4, 6-1.
According to Comsewogue head coach Mike Taheny, Musmacher, a three-year varsity starter, is the best athlete and net player on the team. Natukota, he said, has the best strokes, is the most skilled and hardest hitter. The two are co-captains on a young team that fields no seniors.
The Mustangs fell to Eastport-South Manor 5-2, but turned the corner in a 5-2 match against Rocky Point for their first league win of the season.
“A lot of the girls did a fantastic job, even in some of the matches where we ended up losing they were close, so the girls are having a great start for the year,” Mount Sinai head coach Tom Duffy said of the last few matches. “We have young girls stepping in — we have a couple of freshman and an eight-grader [Glorianna Gennaro] who played first doubles for us today, and the eight-grader played fourth singles for us at Rocky Point, so we have a lot of flexibility.”
Mount Sinai’s strength was in its first doubles play, where the Mustangs paired junior and three-year varsity starter Alexis Gergely with Gennaro, who won handily in two sets, 6-3 and 6-2.
“I thought we played well at net,” Gergely said. “We won in our opening match against [Bellport], but I’ve got to focus on getting better on my serves.”
Taheny said Port Jefferson will give his team a run for its money. Comsewogue will face off against the Royals Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m.
“Rumor has it that Port Jeff has a very good singles lineup — I don’t know because we didn’t play them last year,” the coach said. “But I think our team is very strong, and honestly, it’s going to be a tight league.”
Ankita Katukota, Nikita’s twin sister, answered the call in third singles, defeating her challenger 6-3, 6-4, and Trisha Sandhala was right behind her, besting her foe 6-3, 6-2 for the sweep.
“I went up to the net more, but not as much volleying,” Ankita Katukota said. “I was pleased with my serving and I had more winners down the line.”
Mount Sinai senior Kaitlin Chen said she had to battle her way through her singles sets, but was upbeat despite the outcome.
“Although I lost my match today, I played pretty well and I was pleased with my forehand,” the co-captain said. “I’ll work on getting better with my back hand. I lost against Eastport-South Manor in our first match, but I won against Rocky Point on Friday.”
Taheny said his team’s challenge this year will be in doubles play, which boasts all new faces.
“We lost six seniors to graduation — I lost my entire doubles squad — but this year they’re new and they’re fresh, and getting better every match,” he said, noting that on the flip side his one through four singles players are returners.
Mount Sinai co-captain Alexandra Suslan said she had too had a tough singles match, but was also pleased by how close it was.
“I lost today, but I played well in the first set,” the senior said. “I was satisfied with my serves and some of my angle shots, but I need to get better at hitting higher over the net.”
With the win Comsewogue improves to 2-0 and will host Middle Country on Wednesday.
Mount Sinai drops to 1-1 in League VI play, but will look for redemption when the Mustangs also take on undefeated Port Jefferson next at home at 3:30 p.m.