For the Westhampton Beach boys tennis team, success is not measured by its record against League VII foes but rather by its performance in a handful of non-league contests tucked into the regular season slate. For years, the Hurricanes have proven their ability to dominate teams within their league, while the true test of how they will fare in the postseason comes against powerhouses that, like the Canes, have their sights set on winning a county title.
Members of the team competed in two such matches last week and impressed their coach by coming away with a pair of hard-fought victories. The Hurricanes got past Commack 4-3 at home on Friday after beating East Islip by the same score on the road on April 9.
“They were tremendous wins,” Coach John Czartosieski said. “In both matches, the kids really showed their determination to really go after this county title.”
Czartosieski said that having good performances in the non-league matches is crucial for his team, particularly when it begins postseason play.
“Not to take anything away from the teams in our league, but these non-leagues are the ones that prepare us for the postseason,” he said. “We need these matches. In the league, we kind of know that we’re going to win, so we have to find other schools that are good and can really test us. I’m very proud of the kids and their intensity so far.”
Even more impressive is the fact that the Hurricanes were missing two of their usual starters in both matches. Dylan Jurow has been out with a broken collarbone while Alex Rutherfurd was away visiting a college.
In the two matches, Westhampton Beach played in a total of six three-set matches, with five of them coming against East Islip. Against the Redmen, Rich Sipala got a win at first singles, 6-2, 6-2 against John Wilsinger while Tyler Schulz lost at second singles to Chris Buzzi. Schulz dropped the first set 6-2, won the second set 7-6 (7-5) and dropped the third set 6-2. At third singles, Christian Thienel lost to John Rosono, winning the first set 7-5 before dropping the second set 6-4 and losing the third set 7-6 (7-4). At fourth singles, Steven Palmer lost a three-setter, winning the first 7-5, dropping the second 6-3 and losing the third 7-5.
Westhampton Beach caught up with strong doubles play, with the first doubles team of Kenny Ballato and Greg Kandell providing the clinching point with a win against Dave Lobo and Suraj Patel. Ballato and Kandell dropped the first set 6-2, won the second set 6-4 and emerged in a tight third set with 7-6 (8-6) win. At second doubles, Brian Lehrer and Christian LaDu beat Nick Bauer and Dan Bonner, winning the first set 6-2, dropping the second set 6-3 and winning the third set 7-6 (7-3) and at third doubles, Mike Hammond and Eric Antunovich beat Curtis Bosinski and Mike Nixdorf, 6-3, 7-5.
The same lineup took the court against Commack with Sipala suffering a 6-0, 6-3 loss to Zach Dean at first singles, while Schulz beat Andrew Benin 6-3, 6-2 at second singles. At third singles, Thienel beat Gautam Rao 6-1, 7-5 after falling behind 5-2 in the second set, and Palmer lost to Jordan Lindenman 6-3, 6-2 at fourth singles.
In doubles play, Ballato and Kandell lost 6-3, 6-2 to Brett Gordon and Zach Friedland while Lehrer and LaDu provided the clinching point, beating Jon Kim and Harris Wellner in three sets at second doubles. They won the first set 6-2, dropped the second set 7-5 and won the third set 6-0. At third doubles, Hammond and Antunovich beat Nima Moshtagh and Anil Nandkumar 6-3, 6-3.
The Hurricanes beat Commack in the playoffs last year, but suffered a loss in regular season when they were missing first singles standout Dillon Pottish, who graduated last year. Czartosieski said he was happy to see his team beat Commack without Pottish in the lineup.
In their only League VII match last week, the Hurricanes breezed past Shoreham/Wading River 7-0 on the road on April 8, winning all their matches in straight sets and giving up only nine total games.
Westhampton Beach was scheduled to face another tough non-league team on Tuesday at Half Hollow Hills East and will get back to League VII play today at home against Rocky Point at 4 p.m. The Hurricanes will have one more tough non-league match at home against Half Hollow Hills West on May 2 at 4 p.m.