Southampton senior Jeremy Dubin made school history on Friday, winning the Suffolk County Individual Tournament singles tennis championship at Smithtown East High School.
Not only was it the first county title for Dubin, it was also the first-ever county title for a Southampton player.
Dubin, who will compete in the New York State tournament for the second straight year, won the crown by beating rival Brandon Stone of Whitman in what was a rematch of last year’s county final, which had been won by Stone. This year’s match went to three sets, just as it had last season, but this time Dubin was the victor. After losing 6-4 in the first set, Dubin rallied and won the final two sets, 6-3, 6-2.
Before facing Stone, Dubin took down Tyler Hoffman of Sayville in the semifinals, winning 6-2, 6-2.
Southampton head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield was impressed with Dubin’s performance, particularly because he dealt with two very different styles of play in competing with Hoffman and Stone. Wingfield described Hoffman as a “heavy hitter,” whereas Stone is much smaller and less of an athletic presence but has great consistency and a strong all-around game.
In terms of pure talent, however, Wingfield said that Dubin had the advantage over both of his opponents. Wingfield said that Dubin’s serve, in particular, frustrated Hoffman, so much so that Hoffman at one point in the match yelled out, in frustration, “He has an enormous serve!” Wingfield pointed out that Dubin did not have any double faults throughout the entire tournament.
“His second serve has gotten that good,” he said.
Wingfield said that neither he nor Dubin panicked after he dropped the first set in the battle with Stone. Wingfield explained that there were a few crucial line calls that went Stone’s way in the first set, which may have been a factor in that first-set loss. In high school tennis, players are expected to call their own lines and need to settle any disputes among themselves. Line judges are used only if they cannot agree.
Wingfield said that Dubin “made the adjustments” in the second set and cruised from there to take the win.
“Jeremy moves the ball better than anybody in the county,” Wingfield said.
Next up for Dubin will be a shot at the New York State title—and Wingfield expects his star player to be one of the higher-seeded players in the singles draw. Last year, Dubin finished fifth in the state. This season, Wingfield is hoping that Dubin will be given the third seed.
Seeding for the tournament, which begins on Thursday at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, is not done until the morning of the tournament. Defending state champion Josh Levine of Cold Spring Harbor is expected to be given the top seed, while another player who finished high in the tournament last year likely will earn the second seed.
WHB Doubles Team Takes Second
The Westhampton Beach doubles team of senior J.D. Sipala and sophomore Cooper Lacetera earned a spot in the New York State tournament by finishing second in the county in the doubles draw. Sipala and Lacetera beat Jeremy Schnapp and Alex Ricciuti of Half Hollow Hills East in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-2, before losing in the championship to Jeff Cherkin and Kyle Alper, also of Hills East, falling 6-3, 7-5.
Westhampton Beach head coach John Czartosieski said he was proud of their performance, saying it was the culmination of a season-long goal.
“I’m thrilled for a couple of reasons,” he said. “J.D. is a senior, and this was a goal personally for him to get to states. They played very well. It’s tough at this level—no one walks away with the championship; you have to play well multiple times to earn it. They made a few untimely errors in the final, but the Hills East team was very steady.”
Sipala and Lacetera actually had an early lead in both sets in the final match, leading 5-2 in the second, but Cherkin and Alper battled back both times to earn the win.
Czartosieski added that familiarity with the semifinals opponents likely helped Sipala and Lacetera win. The pair had faced Schnapp and Riciutti in a non-league match earlier in the season, and beat them that time as well.
Czartosieski didn’t have any expectations about where his team would be seeded in the doubles draw at states, but he said it didn’t matter much. “When you go to states, it’s the luck of the draw,” he said. “If they’re in a good spot, they could have three easy rounds in a row. But we’ve exceeded our expectations so far, so just having the opportunity to participate is an honor, and, hopefully, they’ll create some great memories out of it.”