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Apr 10, 2018 1:01 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Mariner Tennis Off To Roaring Start

Mariner Billy Hattrick DREW BUDD
Apr 10, 2018 1:01 PM

The Southampton boys tennis team has won its first four matches of the season, and while it may look like the Mariners are well on their way to winning another League VIII title, head coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield is pumping the brakes on those thoughts, at least for now. While he certainly appreciates where his team is at the moment, there are tougher matches ahead.

Southampton hosted Eastport South Manor on Wednesday and is scheduled to play at Center Moriches this Friday, April 13, at 4 p.m. Then the Mariners are slated to host Southold/Greenport in a non-league match, a rematch of last year’s playoff for the league title.

“Center Moriches has one of the top singles players in the division and ESM always has something, whether it’s a few good doubles teams or a good singles player. The next two matches are not so much a test but will be much more competitive than what we’ve had,” Wingfield said. “It’s a chess match when you get to Eastport and Center Moriches.”

Other than a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at Mattituck in the season opener on March 26, Southampton has dominated its opponents, including Hampton Bays, William Floyd, and most recently, Riverhead, which it defeated, 7-0, on Monday, in its first match since March 28. Part of the luxury of playing weaker teams, Wingfield said, is that he’s been able to move his players around in the lineup and see where they fit best, either at singles or doubles. In order to qualify for the postseason, such as the Division IV Tournament, players must play 50 percent of their matches at either singles or doubles, and Wingfield said he’s been able to keep that on track.

Brian Steidle and Justin Hadix have played at both first and second singles but have also played together at first doubles. Jomel De La Cruz and Billy Hattrick play at first and second singles when Steidle and Hadix pair up. And Ruben Schneiderman can play anywhere from first to fourth singles and makes a good pairing with De La Cruz, Wingfield said, adding even more versatility to the lineup.

But there were a number of players who don’t usually see the front end of the lineup who helped Southampton “pull a rabbit out of a hat,” as Wingfield put it, in the win over Mattituck in the season opener. Down 3-0 after first and second singles and first doubles, Michael Daffey and Lachlan Desane, after dropping their first set, came back and won their next two sets to avoid the loss at second doubles. Southampton won third doubles and third and fourth singles to complete the comeback.

Luke Sacconaghi, an up-and-coming eighth-grader, defeated Joey Sciotto, 6-3, 6-3, in the deciding fourth singles match. Wingfield said Sacconaghi “is in a wonderful spot” for the Mariners. Although highly skilled and potentially the team’s top singles player of the future, he plays at fourth singles due to his age and where he is compared to upperclassmen.

“The thing I really enjoy about this team is that they’re willing to compete, and what that means is they work hard,” Wingfield said. “I don’t know if they’re the most talented group, but they work hard and they really have fun with each other.

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