Ray Hidaka was a few points away from clinching a county championship for his team and he didn’t even know it.
The eighth-grader defeated Shane Duerr, 6-2, 6-2 ,at first singles in the deciding match of No. 3 Shoreham-Wading River’s 4-3 win at No. 1 Bayport-Blue Point Tuesday in the Suffolk Small School boys tennis team final.
After the other six matches ended, the score was tied at 3 while Hidaka and Duerr were still dueling in the second set.
“Honestly, I thought we had already lost,” Hidaka said. “I looked around a little bit and saw they were winning a few matches, but I’m really happy we won.”
Before the finale of Hidaka’s match, Jason Lutz defeated Mathew Decatur, 6-3, 6-1, at second singles, Nikolaos Chantis beat JT Swan, 6-2, 6-0, at fourth singles and the tandem of Christian Bass and Lucas Portuese defeated Kieran Schug and Andrew Brooks, 6-3, 6-4, at third doubles for Shoreham-Wading River (16-3).
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and how they performed,” said Lutz, a senior and captain. “We hadn’t beaten Bayport, but we came in with the mentality that we could do it and we got ourselves a championship.”
The Wildcats were 0-2 against Bayport-Blue Point (15-1) this season as they entered Tuesday’s matchup, losing, 4-3, on April 5 and, 5-2, on May 3.
“I’ve been telling them all week ‘Third time’s a charm,’” coach Joelmaia Carrasco said.
According to Carrasco, the win marks the program’s first Suffolk County title since 1986.
The Wildcats’ other senior captain, Erik Epp, fell to Aidan Apicella, 6-3, 6-3, at third singles, but it didn’t dampen the moment for him.
“We got wins from some guys and teams that didn’t usually win, but they clutched up for us today,” Epp said. “We’ve had some rough seasons the last few years, but it feels good to end one like this.”
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround, as they will face Wheatley in the Small School Long Island Championship at Casamento Park in Islip on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
“We’re not going to look forward to tomorrow just yet,” Carrasco said. “I’m going to let them enjoy tonight because they deserve it.”
After clinching their program’s biggest win in 36 years, Hidaka and the Wildcats have one thing on their mind.
“We just want to win,” Hidaka said.