The fight for supremacy in League VII girls tennis this year should be a good one, as several teams have the talent and depth to challenge for the league title.
In the past, Westhampton Beach and Ross have been the heavyweights, but last year the Lady Hurricanes slipped down to fourth place, while William Floyd and East Hampton joined the discussion as teams to be reckoned with. And after a successful campaign in League VIII last year, Southampton has moved back into League VII, and the team’s depth and young returning talent will make it formidable as well.
Head coach John Czartosieski said he would like to see his team improve on what was, by Westhampton Beach standards, a pretty subpar season. The Lady Hurricanes lost All-County player Jodie Sipala to graduation but return plenty of strong players. Senior Laura Halsey is back at first singles, while juniors Yesha Dalal and Mira Patel should make a strong doubles team. Freshman Bodicea Zita-Felske and junior Hailey Ciolino will team up at second doubles, while senior Sabrina Salvi will likely play at third singles. Senior Sarah Strebel, who was undefeated at fourth singles last year, will be a strong player, but will miss the early part of the season because of illness.
Joining the varsity for the first time this year are juniors Lauren Bauer, Caitlin Smith, Samantha Tiska and Olivia Zemmour, and eighth-grader Emma Bender.
Westhampton Beach started off with a 4-3 win at home against East Hampton to kick off the season on Monday. Halsey got Westhampton Beach’s only win in the singles draw, beating Isabel Peters, 6-1, 6-2, at number one. East Hampton’s Becca Kuperschmid beat Caitlin Smith, 6-4, 6-4, at second singles, while Salvi lost to East Hampton’s Cece Combemale in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 2-6, at third singles. East Hampton’s Erin Gray beat Emma Bender, 6-1, 7-5, at fourth singles. Patel and Dalal beat Harriet DeGroot and Makenzie Scheerer, 6-1, 6-2, at first doubles, while Bo Felske and Ciolino beat Allie Clarke and Amelie Neubert, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, at second doubles. Bauer and Tiska beat Leah Maffucci and Natalie Wolff, 6-3, 6-0, at third doubles.
The Lady Mariners bring back three-time All-County player Noa Dubin, a senior this year, who will be the top singles player once again for the team. Southampton also has a bevy of young players who should be improved, with a year of varsity experience already under their belts, in sophomores Cecelia Scheuer, Susanna Knoebel, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Juila Kepczynska. Seniors Megan Goleski, Savannah Nieto, Johanna Moore and Madison Kelly return to the team as well. They will try to offset the loss of Kenyu Banks, Jade Kalbacher and Mariah Neknez, who graduated.
The Lady Bonackers have a new coach this year in Katie Helfand. Helfand, a math teacher at East Hampton, hails from Massachusetts originally and played tennis at Wheaton College. She inherits a team that lost a few seniors, most notably All-State players Danni Dunphy and Gillian Neubert. Returning seniors Maddie Aldrich and Makenzie Scheerer will captain the team. Aldrich will play at first singles typically, while Scheerer will team up with junior Harriet DeGroot at first doubles. Peters, Lily Kot and Combemale are all returning players, all hailing from Pierson. DeGroot, from Bridgehampton, along with Gray, Pierson’s Clarke, and East Hampton students Wolff and Irene Hatgistavrou are all up from the JV, while eighth-graders Kuperschmid, Neubert and Maffucci could also see time on the court. Peters, Kuperschmid and Combemale will probably fill in the rest of the singles lineup, while Kot and Neubert and Gray and Clarke should see time in doubles.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Westhampton Beach—Wednesday, 9/10, vs. Southampton, 4 p.m.; Thursday, 9/11, vs. Hampton Bays (non-league), 4 p.m.; Monday, 9/15, vs. Floyd, 4 p.m. East Hampton—Friday, 9/12, at ESM, 4 p.m.; Monday, 9/15, vs. Southampton, 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/17, at Floyd, 4 p.m.; Southampton—Wednesday, 9/10, at Westhampton, 4 p.m.; Friday, 9/12, vs. Floyd, 4 p.m. Monday, 9/15, at East Hampton, 4 p.m.