The Bonackers have had an unbelievable season, and although it ended with a 5-2 loss to Commack May 1, close matches that could have gone either way show the East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson team has a clear shot at the Suffolk County title.
Jonny DeGroot pulled out one of the two wins at first singles. He dropped a first-set tiebreaker 6-7, won the second set 6-4, and earned a 10-5 third-set win in a super tiebreaker he was up 9-1 in early.
“Jonny played such a clean, unbelievable tiebreaker,” head coach Kevin McConville said. “He was making his serves and making his volleys. He played beautifully. He really has gotten better every match. He’s comfortable with his strategy. He’s become more and more adept at executing the style he plays.”
DeGroot said he was trying to get to the net as much as possible, saying in recent matches he realized he wasn’t coming in enough. The problem was Commack’s Tyler D’Amato was using serve and volleys against him, so both players coming in close threw things off rhythm. The Bridgehampton senior said he also struggled adapting to playing against a lefty.
“It’s super uncommon,” he said. “I was really stressed trying to get the return back in the first set, but in the second set I started figuring it out, going inside-out forehand, stepping around my backhand.”
What also made the match more difficult is DeGroot’s kick-serve isn’t as much a weapon against a left-handed foe. Because it spins toward D’Amato’s forehand, he has a better chance at running around the spin and returning the ball than righties do.
No. 2 doubles teammates Alex Weseley and Jamie Fairchild were the other match winners, pulling ahead 6-2, 7-5. No. 2 singles player Ravi MacGurn lost 2-6, 6-7 after being up 5-3 in the second set, and No. 4 doubles duo Brad Drubych and Matthew McGovern dropped their match in three sets 5-7, 6-3, 5-7.
“I thought Ravi had a real chance to win,” McConville said. “He had an off day. He’s always rock-solid. We were up 5-4 at No. 3 doubles in the third set and ended up losing that. Those two matches can flip it from 5-2 to 4-3 our way. I was happy, proud to watch the doubles, because Commack is known for their doubles.”
Last year, Commack’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams faced off in the state finals. Their coach Jimmy Delevante has played the tour, coaches several of his boys privately, and has the doubles teams playing high formation. McConville noted Delevante told him the Bonackers doubles lineup was the best he’d seen all year. Even Jaedon Glasstein and Miles Clark gave James Yu and Eddie Liao a run for their money at first singles, 7-5, 6-4. Glasstein had a handful of big serves and quick returns up front for big points.
“He played really well,” McConville said of Glasstein, who with Weseley, is No. 1 seed in the individual doubles tournament.
The match was both important for the Bonackers in preparation for the team tournament, and more immediately, as practice for the individual singles and doubles tournaments.
“All these other teams are ghost teams to us,” DeGroot said. “We don’t know anything about them, so this was a great scouting mission for the county tournament.”
The Bonackers ended the regular season 11-2 overall and undefeated (10-0) in League VII. Being given the No. 5 seed in the county tournament, they’ll receive a first-round bye before hosting the winner of No. 12 Miller Place v No. 21 Sayville Wednesday, May 15 at 4 PM. Should they win, they’ll play again May 16 and with the semifinals being May 17. If they make it, the Bonackers could end up facing No. 1-seeded Half Hollow Hills East. The Bonackers lost to Hills East 5-2 back on March 27.