The East Hampton boys tennis team has one of the toughest schedules in Suffolk County, and while it has suffered a series of losses to powerhouses in non-league play, head coach Jim Nicoletti has seen his team improve from week to week as a result of facing such high-caliber competition.
The Bonackers split a pair of non-league contests last week, traveling to beat West Babylon 6-1 on April 22 before falling 7-0 to Ward Melville at home on Thursday. East Hampton was scheduled to visit Islip in a non-league match on Monday, weather permitting, and was scheduled to host undefeated League VII leader Westhampton Beach yesterday. Prior to those matches, the Bonackers held a 4-2 record in league play, 6-6 overall, good enough for a second-place tie with Longwood.
The last few league matches of the season should be a battle for second place between the Bonackers, Longwood and third-place Mattituck (2-4). The Tuckers suffered losses to both Longwood and East Hampton earlier in the season, but were missing several of their top players in those matches. Nicoletti said he expects a tougher battle from the Tuckers the second time around. East Hampton will host Longwood on Monday at 4:15 p.m. at East Hampton Indoor Tennis and will host Mattituck two days later at 4 p.m. Prior to those matches, East Hampton will host Rocky Point on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
In the win against West Babylon, freshman Zach Newburger beat Rich Niwlini 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 at first singles; Jimmy Strauss picked up a 6-2, 6-3 win at second singles; Brian Fink beat Scott Bujan 6-2, 6-3 at third singles and Carlos Uchupailla lost 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) to Jeff Rodriguez at fourth singles.
In doubles play, the first doubles team of Jonathan Jamet and Dylan Sanicola beat Rob Cooper and Jay Gratuta 6-2, 6-3; the second doubles team of Jonathan Sanabria and Dan Horwith beat Kazim Sied and Hussein Sied 6-2, 6-2 and at third doubles, J.J. Burke and David Rubenstein beat Rob Bean and Mike DeAngelo 6-3, 6-1.
In the loss to Ward Melville, East Hampton lost all its matches in straight sets but was competitive in several individual matchups. Strauss lost for just the second time this season at second singles, falling 6-3, 6-4 to Michael Szcfupack while Ucupailla played at third singles and lost 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to Max Tcherevik. At first singles, Newburger lost 6-1, 6-0 and at fourth singles, Luke Sweetman was downed 6-4, 6-0. In doubles play, Jamet and Sanicola suffered a 6-0, 6-3 loss; Horwith and Sanabria were downed 6-1, 6-4 and Burke and Rubenstein lost 6-3, 6-2.
Nicoletti said that he hopes that the competition his team has faced will prepare it for a tough final stretch of the regular season as well as the county team and individual postseason tournaments.
“I told the team that at this point, our record is 6-6 and four of our six losses have come to teams that are ranked in the top eight in the county,” Nicoletti said. “We’ve played the toughest schedule of any team in non-league in the county. We’ve played well and I’ve seen big improvement from where we were at the beginning of the season. Hopefully, that will bear out in the last four league matches.”