N  I  A  G  A  R  A   G  A  Z  E  T  T  E   - May 8, 2006

GI singles player is a hit on the drums, court.


By Jonah Bronstein
Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — With a Hollywood hair-style hanging over his eyes and sideburns framing his ever-present smile, Matt Scibilia looks like a rock star on the tennis court.

But the Grand Island junior matches that style with substance.

“He’s been a vital part of our team this year,” Vikings coach Don Pray said. “Physically, he’s the strongest player we have. He’s very powerful when it comes to ground strokes.”

Scibilia will play second or third singles today when GI hosts Niagara Falls. The Wolverines sit atop the Niagara Frontier League standings at 7-1, a half-game in front of the 6-1 Vikings.

“We gotta win if we want the league title,” Scibilia said.

Scibilia doesn’t just look like a musician playing tennis. He is one.

His racquet prowess can be partly attributed to the daily 90-minute workout Scibilia’s wrists get on his basement drum set.

“Music is my passion,” says Scibilia, who’s also proficient in piano and classical guitar. In between practice sessions, Scibilia teaches drums to neighborhood children.

Love of music runs in the Scibilia family. Tony Scibilia, Matt’s grandfather, was a locally-renowned jazz musician in his day. Matt’s father Robert played guitar professionally for several years. And older brother Marc moved to Nashville after graduating high school to pursue his music career.

“He definitely made me want to be a musician,” Matt said of 19-year-old Marc, who sings and plays piano.

When Marc is in Western New York, he and Matt gig together. Of the 13 times Matt has performed with his brother, he said the highlight came last December when they played in front of 4,000 at the Joshua Revolution Youth Rally in Rochester.

“I get nervous,” Matt said about performing in front of such a large audience. “But it’s great once you start feeling your groove.”

Proud papa eagerly awaits the date in August when his two sons will play Kingdom Bound at Six Flag’s Darien Lake.

“I get the feeling that their really going to connect this summer,” Robert Scibilia said.

Pray, who often teaches AP U.S. History to the beat of Matt drumming at his desk, said Matt approaches music and tennis similarly.

“He’s very intense at both,” Pray said. “He wants to perform his best, whether it’s tennis or music.”

The soon-retiring coach said Matt has the ability to be an exceptional tennis player, if he desired.

“If he really worked at his game year-round, he could play college tennis somewhere,” Pray said.

But it seems more likely that tennis will eventually take a back seat to Matt’s musical pursuits.

“I’d like to give a music career a try,” he said. “But I know it’s tough to break in.”