An excellent season officially came to an end for the East Hampton girls tennis team last week with a 7-0 loss in the semifinals to eventual champion Half Hollow Hills East in the Suffolk County Team Tennis Tournament.
The Lady Bonackers, seeded fourth in the tournament, began with a 5-0 win over No. 20 Smithtown West on October 22. Isabel Peters (second singles), Maddie Aldrich (third singles), Maggie Pizzo (fourth singles), Dannie Dunphy and Gillian Neubert (first doubles), and Lily Kot and Cece Combemale (second doubles) all won their matches.
Because it started to rain during the last two matches, and because the outcome had already been decided, the last two matches were not finished. Carly Grossman, at first singles, was winning, 6-3, 4-2, and Julia Talasko and Comsima Schelfhout had split sets with their opponents when the match was called.
East Hampton then beat No. 5 Ross two days later in a hard-fought 5-2 match. Grossman beat Abby Okin in a third-set tiebreaker at first singles, while second and third singles all went into a third set. Peters, at second, ultimately lost, while Aldrich prevailed in the decisive set at third singles. Pizzo won in two close sets at fourth singles, down 3-0 at one point in the second set before pulling out the win. Dunphy and Neubert and Kot and Combemale both won in straight sets at first and second doubles, respectively, while Talasko and Schelfhout lost in third doubles in three sets.
Against powerhouse Hills East in the final the next day, East Hampton was shut out, 7-0. Kot and Combemale lost in three sets at second doubles, while Peters lost, 7-5, 7-5, to an All-State player.
East Hampton will lose seven seniors to graduation—Grossman, Pizzo, Talasko, Schelfhout, Dunphy, Neubert, and Melanie Schwagerl. The program may undergo another change next year as well, as Pierson is considering starting its own varsity program, which means players from that school would not play for East Hampton anymore. Peters, Kot, Combemale, Evan Johnson and Sabrina Re were Pierson players on the Bonac team this year.
No matter what happens, head coach Michelle Kennedy said she was ecstatic about her team’s performance this year.
“This was a great season for many reasons,” she said. First, I have such a great group of well-rounded girls who all got along and are very supportive of each other. We all had fun. In addition, we did great. We are one of the top two strongest leagues in the county, so finishing second in the league felt like quite an accomplishment. The girls earned a number-four seed for the county tournament, so their hard work paid off. Then, to defeat Ross and land a spot in the ‘big four’ was a great feeling. The girls were very excited, and I am so proud of them.”
By all accounts, this year was a down season for the usually strong Westhampton Beach program, but the team ended on a positive note with a strong run in the county tournament.
The Lady Hurricanes, seeded 17th, beat Eastport South Manor, 5-2, in an outbracket match, avenging two losses to the Lady Sharks during the regular season. After that, they beat No. 16 Islip, 4-3, before losing to Hills East.
Against ESM on October 17, Jane Podlaski won, 6-0, 6-1, at second singles against Victoria Chan, while Sabrina Salvi beat Emily Cereola, 7-5, 7-6, at fourth singles. Westhampton Beach swept the doubles matches, with Jodie Sipala and Jessica Proust beating Cassie Rivera and Sarah Jurgielewicz, 6-4, 6-2, at first; Gen Spanarkel and Heather Marcella beating Vanessa Amendola and Nicole Horn, 6-3, 6-4, at second; and Yesha Dalal and Mira Patel beating Julia Cutler and Taylor Bourguignon, 7-5, 6-2, at third.
ESM’s Jackie Bukzin, who advanced to states as an individual, beat Laura Halsey, 6-1, 6-0, at first, while Laura Kesnig beat Westhampton Beach’s Sarah Strebel, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, at third singles.
Against Islip, Halsey won, 6-0, 6-1 at first singles; Podlaski won, 6-1, 6-2, at second; and Strebel won, 6-0, 6-2, at third. Sipala and Proust teamed up for a 7-6, 6-0 at win first doubles for Westhampton Beach’s other point, while Marcella and Spanarkel lost a close three-set match at second doubles.
In the shutout loss to Hills East, the closest match was at first doubles, where Halsey and Sipala lost in a third-set tiebreaker.
Westhampton Beach finished 4-12 on the year.