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Molloy’s Zawadski shocks Zaretser in girls’ final

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The senior from Archbishop Molloy is harder on herself then most of her foes and on Sunday when she pulled off the upset of the Mayor’s Cup,...

By Mitch Abramson

To win tennis matches, Catherine Zawadzki doesn’t need to just beat her opponents, she also has to beat herself.

The senior from Archbishop Molloy is harder on herself then most of her foes and on Sunday when she pulled off the upset of the Mayor’s Cup, defeating top-seeded and nationally-ranked Polina Zaretser of New Utrecht, 7-5, 6-1 to win the girls’ individual championship, Zawadzki packed up her bags at the National Tennis Center and walked off the court as if nothing happened.

Zawadzki, who constantly berates herself during matches, a habit she picked up when she was 12 after she stopped taking tennis lessons from her father because he was too critical, was happy to end the match and go back to being Catherine Zawadzki, resident of Brooklyn, USA.

“My father’s voice is always in my head when I play,” she said. “I’ve been talking to myself since I was a kid. It’s what makes me lose sometimes. I don’t know why I say some of things I say. I guess maybe it’s because everyone else is cheering for me and telling me how good I am, and I need to bring myself back to reality.”

Against Zaretser, who lost a total of three games before the finals, Zawadzki didn’t need to be pinched to regain her senses; she gutted out the first set, breaking the junior’s serve to win 7-5 and played near flawless tennis in the second when Zaretser seemed content to finish the match as quickly as possible.

Zaretser, ranked among the top ten nationally in her age group and No. 3 in the Eastern Sectionals, helped New Utrecht, which doesn’t have a girls’ team, win the PSAL ‘B’ boys’ title this year. She also beat Zawadzki in the quarterfinals of last years’ Mayor’s Cup.

While Zaretser was rolling over her opponents, second seeded Zawadzki, who last played in February, won a pair of hard fought 6-4, 6-4 matches to reach the finals.

“I thought I was definitely going to lose this match,” she said.

Most observers agreed. But that little voice inside her head that never seems to shut up ignited something inside of her, and Syracuse University bound senior fought back down 2-0 in the first set to lead 5-4 after breaking Zaretser three times.

After winning the first and leading 40-15 up 5-3 in the second, she gave herself one last piece of advice to close out the match. She told herself: ‘I still have a 100 percent chance of losing,’ and with that, she hit a forehand winner on a service return to win the title.

In a match that had slightly less Freudian overtones, top-seeded Kathryn Sorokko and Martina Featherston won the doubles title for St. Francis Prep, beating the King sisters, Carlissa and Laken of Midwood, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) to repeat as Mayor’s Cup doubles champions.

Sorokko and Featherston broke the Kings four times in the first set, but found themselves trailing 5-2 in the second because of service errors and improved play from the Midwood duo.

“We didn’t want to split sets with them,” Sorokko said.

Serving and volleying with abandon, Sorokko and Featherston quickened the pace of the match and forced the King sisters into errors from the baseline.

Said Prep coach John Brennan: “They’re both sophomores; They’re goal is to win this tournament four years in a row.”

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

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