A move down to League VIII and the return of several young, talented players means the Southampton girls tennis team is poised to have a successful season.
The Lady Mariners lost only two key players—All-League second singles player Paulina Kepczynska graduated in June and third singles player Julia Dudley decided to play soccer. But junior Noa Dubin, an All-County player last year, returns to the top singles spot and will be one of the top players in the conference, while freshman Cecelia Scheuer is back for her second year on varsity and will play at second singles.
A quartet of returning players—senior Keynu Banks, senior Jade Kalbacher, and freshmen Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Julia Kepczynska—will rotate around between third and fourth singles, as well as first doubles. Junior Megan Goleski and senior Mariah Neknez are likely to team up at second doubles, while juniors Johanna Moore and Madison Kelly will likely play at third doubles.
After finishing last in League VII last year, Southampton was moved down to League VIII, while League VIII champion Eastport South Manor was moved up to League VII. Southampton head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield expects Mattituck to be the top team in League VIII, and said Riverhead should be strong as well.
The Lady Mariners had a strong showing in their opening match last Wednesday, September 4, against Mattituck, which then ended up losing 4-3. Southampton was without both Kalbacher and Banks that day.
At first singles, Dubin beat Molly Kowalski 6-4, 6-2, and at second singles, Scheuer beat Keira Martin 6-8, 6-2, 8-6. Kepczynska lost 6-2, 6-2 to Liz Dwyer at third singles, and Kropiwnicka beat Emily Mowdy 6-4, 6-3.
Southampton was swept in doubles, with everyone losing in straight sets. Junior Savannah Nieto and freshman Susanna Knoebel had the most competitive match, falling 7-5, 6-3 to Melissa Hickox and Christina Beiber.
The Lady Mariners also lost 6-1 to William Floyd in a non-league home match on Monday. Floyd is expected to be one of the top teams in League VII this year.
The Lady Bonackers lost five to graduation, but are returning three great players in Carly Grossman, Dannie Dunphy and Gillian Neubert. Grossman will return to her spot as the top singles player for the team, while Dunphy and Neubert will either pair up at first doubles or compete at second and third singles, respectively. Dunphy and Neubert earned All-State honors last year, advancing to the state tournament after finishing second in the county tournament.
The loss of Margaux Eckert, Phoebe Gianis, Sydney Sanicola, Sarah Becker and Isabella Facendola to graduation means East Hampton has holes to fill at fourth singles, and second and third doubles. But with the strong trio of players returning, the Lady Bonackers should be competitive in League VII, where William Floyd and Westhampton Beach are expected to be the top teams.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Southampton—Wednesday, 9/11, vs. Southold/Greenport, 4 p.m.; Friday, 9/13, at Riverhead, 3:30 p.m.; Monday, 9/16, vs. Shoreham/Wading River, 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/18, at Center Moriches, 4:30 p.m. East Hampton—Wednesday, 9/11, at Mercy, 4 p.m.; Friday, 9/13, vs. Ross, 3:30 p.m.; Monday, 9/16, at Floyd, 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/18, vs. ESM, 4 p.m.