The Bonackers have wasted no time bouncing back from last year.
With 10 returnees, 10 seniors, and three straight wins, the East Hampton boys tennis team has made an early-season statement.
“All of the stuff we implemented last year I don’t have to reteach,” said second-year head coach Kevin McConville, whose team also draws players from Bridgehampton and Pierson. “Instead, we’re just expanding on what we did last year. I’m really happy with their progress; we got more talented. The kids have been doing great.”
The team solidified a strong lineup top to bottom with the addition of East Hampton eighth-grader Max Astilean at No. 4 singles, which bumped East Hampton senior Jaedon Glasstein to No. 1 doubles, which his coach said is a better fit for him. He will be matched up with Pierson senior Alex Weseley, an All-County returner headed to Cornell University next year.
“He was my best doubles player,” McConville said of Weseley, who missed the first three matches of the season due to injury. “And Max, he really helps our singles lineup. He’s played in a couple of tough matches so far this season and is undefeated.”
Bridgehampton senior James Fairchild is paired up with Pierson senior Brad Drubych at second singles. The coach said the four had been competing in a round robin against each other all preseason, adding they’ve all been evenly matched. East Hampton sophomore Matthew McGovern and Bridgehampton’s Miles Clark are also returning All-County players who will round out the doubles side of the roster. The pair made it to the county semifinals in last year’s doubles tournament.
East Hampton senior Ravi MacGurn at No. 2 singles and Pierson freshman Luke Louchheim at the No. 3 spot have also gone undefeated through the first three matches. Louchheim went undefeated in League VII play last season.
“Ravi, Luke, and Max are guys who have good ground strokes,” McConville said. “We’ve been working on their transition game in practice, going from the baseline to the net, and then hitting drop shots and making their opponent come to the net. That’s been a big weakness in their games and we’ve been working on that, along with volleys, overheads, and slices, that way, when they’re going against someone that has better groundstrokes than them they’re not out of options.”
He said he’s hoping that will give them the same variety as their No. 1 singles teammate, Bridgehampton senior Jonny DGgroot. All four singles players compete in outside tournaments, which has helped them return that much stronger.
The Bonackers proved that with a 4-3 nail-biter over Hills West to open the season March 15, before following that up with the 7-0 shutout of Westhampton. DeGroot fell to Hills West’s top player 10-8, but beat Westhampton sophomore Josh Kaplan 10-8.
“Jonny is a big kid with a huge serve, he has a ton of variety — he can come to the net, use drop shots to bring his opponent to the net,” McConville said.
Kaplan is leading a young Hurricanes team that’s working on the finer points of doubles play. Westhampton also just solidified its lineup moving forward.
“He’s put a lot of time and effort into his game,” head coach John Czartosieski said of Kaplan. “He’s shown nice improvement in his footwork, but during the off-season he really improved all aspects of his game.”
Freshman Andrew Insalaco, the Hurricanes’ only returning senior Daniel Caputo, and sophomore Santo Benenati round out the singles slots. Juniors Kasper Buchen and Jake Ongania will compete at first doubles. Classmate Pierce Rosen-Keith also returns to the team, while seniors Shane Tyrie and Nick Chen, junior Cole Federico, freshman Alessandro Volpe, and seventh-grader Trevor Hayes are all up from junior varsity.
“East Hampton is going to be hard to beat,” Czartosieski said. “My guys realized after playing East Hampton that they have some work to do in practice, but they’re excited about that. We’re looking forward to the next time we play them.”
Westhampton won its own nail-bitter, a 4-3 win over Southold March 21. It followed the loss to East Hampton and a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Half Hollow Hills East, which is also 3-0 to start the season and finished second in the county to Commack last season.
The Bonackers were supposed to play Hills East Friday, March 22, but the game was delayed due to weather to Wednesday, March 27, at 4 PM.
“We were all excited to play Friday — we were ready to go to — so it was kind of disappointing,” the coach said of the rescheduling.
“The improvement in our doubles from last year is what makes us so strong,” McConville said. “Instead of just having a couple of really good singles players, the development in the middle and bottom of the order has been great. County and Long Island champions have 10 good, smart players. If you have weaknesses in your lineup against good schools, you’re going to get beat. If everyone can stay healthy, I like our chances.”