Longtime Westhampton Beach boys tennis coach John Czartosieski wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going into this season.
The Hurricanes are never bad, or even mediocre. The sport has had a strong foothold in the school for years; a league title never seems out of reach. But after losing to graduation most of the doubles players, as well as All-State singles player Danny Tocco, Czartosieski knew the team’s fortunes this year would rely on the progression of largely inexperienced players.
They rose to the challenge.
The Hurricanes improved to 7-2 in League VII play recently, good enough for second place behind a talented and experienced East Hampton squad, undefeated in league play. Westhampton Beach was scheduled to finish the season against Mattituck, a team it defeated easily in their first matchup of the season. A win in that match, which was played Tuesday, would have given the Hurricanes an 8-2 record in regular season play, 9-4 overall.
“This season has been a success considering what we lost,” Czartosieski said. “The challenges we faced were finding the best partners for doubles, and also determining the best lineup for the team.”
Once they worked out those kinks, the Hurricanes were a force to be reckoned with, giving East Hampton one of its toughest battles of the year in a 4-3 loss to the Bonackers in the second half of the season.
Westhampton Beach cruised to victory in its most recent matches—a 7-0 sweep of Shoreham-Wading River at home on April 16, and a 5-2 home win over William Floyd in a non-league match two days later. Josh Kaplan, Andre Insalaco, Trevor Hayes and Brian Crowley all won easily in straight sets in singles against Shoreham, while Jake Ongania and Kasper Buchen, Dan Caputo and Pierce Rosen-Keith, and Thomas Lidonnici and Shane Tyrie won easily in straight sets in all the doubles matches. Against Floyd, Kaplan, Insalaco and Hayes won in straight sets at the first three singles spots. Buchen and Ongania won a three-set match at first doubles, and Tyrie and Lidonnici also won in three sets at third doubles.
Czartosieski and the team will turn their attention to the postseason this weekend, which starts with the Division IV tournament at Shoreham-Wading River High School May 3 through 6. Earlier this week, Czartosieski said he hoped to put Kaplan, Insalaco, Hayes and Santo Benenati in the singles draw, and three teams in the doubles draw—Ongania/Buchen, Caputo/Rosen-Keith, and Sandro Volpe/Nick Chen.
Kaplan made it to the finals of the division singles draw last year, losing to teammate Tocco, so the expectation for him will be to fight for the title this year. His toughest competition figures to be East Hampton’s Jonny DeGroot and Mike Koscinski of Center Moriches. The expectation for the rest of the players is simple, Czartosieski said.
“For many, this will be the first time playing in the division tournament, so I’m just hoping nerves don’t play a role and they have fun, compete hard, and enjoy the experience.”