Last season, Eastport South Manor’s Jackie Bukzin, as a seventh-grader, earned All-State status when she finished fourth at the Section XI (Suffolk County) Individual Girls Tennis Championships. But fourth place only meant she was an alternate to go to the New York State Championships and she was never able to make the trip upstate.
That wasn’t good enough for Bukzin.
So this season Bukzin came back with a vengeance and completed one of her major goals she set earlier this year by reaching the New York State Championships after finishing second at this year’s championships on Monday at Smithtown East High School. After defeating Ester Chikvashvili of Half Hollow Hills East, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals, Bukzin dropped her finals match, 6-3, 6-2, to Suffolk County Champion Aimee Manfredo, a senior from Shoreham/Wading River, in a rematch of the Division IV final. By placing second this year, Bukzin will actually make the trip to the Tri-City Tennis Center in Latham, New York, and have a chance to make her mark at the state level. States start Saturday, November 2, and run through Monday.
“She played well throughout the tournament,” ESM head coach Sharon Klune said. “She is looking forward to going to states in November. Her goal throughout the tournament was to make the trip to Latham. She is extremely excited.”
The Lady Sharks, as a team, just squeaked into the Section XI Team Tournament, hosting an outbracket game on Thursday, October 17, against Westhampton Beach. ESM only had two League VII victories this season and both came against the cross-town rival Lady Hurricanes by scores of 4-3. But last week, the Lady Hurricanes had the Lady Sharks’ number, turning the tables and winning 4-3.
Sarah Strebel defeated Laura Kesnig, 6-0, 6-1, at third singles and Yesha Dalal and Mira Patel defeated Julia Cutler and Taylor Bourguignon, 7-5, 6-2, at third doubles to lead the Lady Hurricanes.
Westhampton Beach then defeated Islip, 4-3, on Friday to advance and play top-seeded Half Hollow Hills East on Tuesday.
“We had a lot of challenges for being in League VII for the first time,” Klune said. “We expected to see a higher level of play. I think we will be more prepared next year, having experienced the intensity League VII had to offer.”