East Hampton senior Ravi MacGurn loves a challenge.
It’s something tennis has given him since he started on varsity in seventh grade. But on Thursday, May 16, the team’s no. 2 singles player met his final match in a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Harborfields’ Mike Singer. His Bonackers team was eliminated from the Suffolk County team tournament 5-2.
“It’s a team sport. It’s nice to be with the other guys — but I like how in singles, it’s just me on the court. It’s all up to me,” MacGurn said. “You have to be so mentally strong to play this game, and I love that.”
The Tufts University-bound player’s Bridgehampton teammate, Jonny DeGroot, felt similarly.
“It’s a sport for savages, yet it’s a gentleman’s game,” said DeGroot, who is also a senior. “It’s taught me to be resilient. And there’s something in it for everyone. It’s a great exercise. It’s a mental challenge. To me, it’s the best sport.”
DeGroot, at No. 1 singles, fell to county individual champion Alex
Rzehak, 6-2, 6-4.
“I knew he was a good player, solid from the baseline. I didn’t expect his serve to be as strong as it was,” DeGroot said. “I knew I had a chance, but my serve was a little bit too inconsistent.”
It was still dominating. He could get points off it at will, which kept him in the match. Noticing Rzehak was moving in on his serves in the first set so they didn’t get too high on him, DeGroot started hitting toward Rzehak’s body, which worked well in the second.
“It’s good to make it to the county tournament. It’s disappointing we couldn’t finish it out, it being my last chance, but this was a tough team,” DeGroot said. “We just didn’t quite have what it takes.”
No. 3 singles player Luke Louchheim, a Pierson freshman, defeated Chris Qi 6-3, 6-0, and the No. 1 doubles team of East Hampton senior Jaedon Glasstein and Pierson senior Alex Weseley took down Billy Waring and Simon Kapen 6-1, 6-3 for the Bonackers’ only wins. Glasstein and Weseley beat Miller Place’s Matt Molinaro and Landon Agil 6-1, 6-3 in the team’s 7-0 first-round sweep. The doubles duo had lost to the Panthers pair in the first round of the Suffolk County individual tournament.
“The doubles played really well. They came along,” head coach Kevin McConville said. “It was exciting to see a good matchup. I’m most proud of their progress. They play smart, they play together, they self-correct — it takes time to do that. Toward the end of the year, they were playing some of their best doubles.”
It came down to East Hampton eighth-grader Max Astilean to keep the Bonackers in it. The No. 4 singles player had already lost his first set to senior Bobby Bellino 7-5 when DeGroot and MacGurn lost their matches. He had set points in the first up 5-4. He lost the second set 6-1, despite several games going to 30-all.
The Bonackers will be losing six seniors and Louchheim, who is leaving for boarding school, which means Astilean will most likely take a big leap to the No. 1 singles slot.
“Max played great. He surprised us,” McConville said. “Not that we didn’t think he had a chance, but I’ve been hard on him lately about being consistent and playing well, and this will help take him into the future.”
McConville said he knew the Tornadoes boasted a tough singles lineup, and thought MacGurn had the best chance to dig out a much-needed win on that side of the courts. MacGurn said his sophomore opponent was just too consistent.
“I was trying to mix up my shots, get some variety, but he was a wall; so solid,” the senior said. “I tried to hit some drop shots — it was working a little bit — but I couldn’t get the passing shot to work for me. My serve was also a little shaky at the end. I was falling into double faults. I was trying to get some more spin on my serve.”
MacGurn said McConville has made a major difference in his game, saying his serve has improved tremendously on top of his hits in general. But what he’s said his coach has altered most for him is his character, especially while leading the team the last few years. DeGroot added his coach has always been there for emotional support on top of the technical. The coach said his boys have also been a dream to work with.
“It’s like having extra coaches. It makes my job so easy,” McConville said. “We have a great time together. They’re all competitive. We’re productive. Traveling on all those bus rides was a lot of fun. This is a really special group of boys. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the two seasons of varsity tennis with these guys. They’re going to be sorely missed.”
Those departing helped the Bonackers to an undefeated 10-0 League VII record, winning the title for the third straight season. MacGurn said it’s been nice to see the progress after the team was struggling just a few years prior to make it in League VIII.
“There’s a tennis culture in East Hampton, and when you combine it with Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton there’s usually a lot of talent,” DeGroot said. “This was our strongest year in the four years I’ve been playing. There’s been some tough times, so it was nice to bring some glory back to the Hamptons.”