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Oct 25, 2018 10:39 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Girls Tennis Is First Ever Suffolk County Team To Win Long Island Championship

The Westhampton Beach girls tennis team became the first from Suffolk County to win a Long Island Championship by defeating Syosset 4-3. DREW BUDD
Oct 30, 2018 9:53 AM

There’s something to be said for being the first team to ever accomplish a feat. That person, or group of people, lives on in history for years to come.

This year’s Westhampton Beach girls tennis team will be one of those groups that will forever be remembered.

On Thursday, October 25, the Lady Hurricanes defeated Syosset, 4-3, at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow to become the first ever Suffolk County team to win the girls tennis Long Island Championship. Just like their win the day before in the Suffolk County Championship against Commack it came down to second doubles, with Rose Peruso and Juliet Tomaro. While the pair avoided another three-set match, it was still a close one against Syosset’s Olivia Tiegerman and Alex Flicker, but they pulled out the 7-5, 7-6 (6) victory, and with it, the county’s first ever Long Island title.

Peruso admitted that she was so focused on her match that she didn’t realize the team score was knotted up at 3-3, so when she and Tomaro won, she didn’t know that it had clinched the overall victory. But her partner was on top of it.

“I knew [the score] so it put more pressure on me because this is kind of a bigger title than a county championship,” she said. “Yesterday was an important win, and I kind of thought of today as like an extra thing to have. But I’m so happy we got it because we all worked so hard.”

About 10 minutes or so prior to Peruso and Tomaro’s clinching victory, Brooke Del Prete and Alex Ho were going at it on the opposite court in second singles. Had Ho won the match, it would have clinched the title for Syosset with her team up, 3-2. But Del Prete hung in and defended Ho’s every move for a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory to tie the match.

Del Prete said she was able to get a heads up from her teammate, Mia Seitles, who was a line judge during the match, that the team was going to need her point, which added some pressure.

“There was no losing option. You need every point,” she said. “Especially in a tiebreaker that’s five-all. I need the next two points or I’m not winning.”

Since Nassau hosted this season, that meant playing by its rules, which is three singles and four doubles, the opposite to what’s played in Suffolk, with four singles and three doubles. On top of that, the team’s strongest players have to play at first and second singles, so Westhampton Beach head coach John Czartosieski had to be very strategic with his lineup and be selective with who played where. To throw another wrinkle in, Rieve Delisle, who typically plays third doubles with Helena Jones, was forced to miss the match due to an illness. With Delise out and an added doubles team, Czartosieski really needed to fill three spots.

Rose Hayes played at first singles and defeated Caroline Lee, 6-0, 6-1. Del Prete played at second singles, and Marin Vanderschaaf played third singles, which she lost to Sarah Wong, 6-1, 7-5. Onalee Batcheller and Emma Bender defeated Stephanie Wiener and Alexa Brecher, 6-4, 7-6 (4) at first doubles. The new additions for the Lady Canes came at third and fourth doubles. Katelyn Stabile, who played fourth singles at counties the day before, played third doubles with Jen Curran. They played well but lost to Ruth Abraham and Sarah Schwartz, 6-4, 6-2. Helena Jones played with Mia Seitles, who had only played in a few matches this season, and even though they lost to Sonya Jolly and Jenna Koeppel, 6-4, 6-4, Czartosieski appreciated the way they played, as did their teammates.

“Everyone on our team has come such a long way since August, and the fact that we all made it this far together is just something we’re never going to forget,” Peruso said. “It’s a team effort, 100 percent. Even though it came down to our match, it wasn’t just us, it was the entire team.”

It was a surprise to almost everyone in attendance that a Suffolk team had never won a Long Island Championship. Czartosieski said that the scores are usually close, much like Thursday’s 4-3 match was, but Nassau typically has the edge.

“It’s just an honor to be the first team to win that Long Island Championship,” he said.

“It’s so funny because on the bus, I was like, ‘There’s a Long Island championship banner for volleyball in our gym,’” Tomaro said. “And I was like, ‘Wait, there’s no banner for tennis,’ so it just makes it so much better. I don’t even know if there’s room in our gym for another banner.”

“The first time Suffolk County has won this? How crazy is that?” Del Prete remarked. “It’s a little surreal. You don’t expect to actually go this far. We were second in the league last year, to this in a matter of a year. It’s crazy.”

Westhampton Beach defeated Ward Melville, last year’s county champion, 6-1, in the season opener back on August 30. That was the announcement the Lady Canes made to the rest of the county that they were for real, and it was a good barometer of where the team was at such an early point of the season. With a solid nucleus of players having returned from last season, the addition of Hayes put the Lady Canes over the top.

“I think it’s been so fun only because our practices have been really intense,” Tomaro said. “I think, personally, I’m definitely better than what I was on the team freshman year only because all of the great players we have on the team.”

There is no state team tournament, so the Lady Canes have gone as far as they can. There is an individual state tournament that Hayes, Del Prete and Batcheller will all be making the trip upstate to, this weekend at the Tri-City Fitness Center in Latham. That began on Saturday and will wrap up on Monday (see separate story).

“The team is great. Rose Hayes just brought the team up like a whole different level,” Del Prete said. “We were already a good team. We have a strong set of seniors, most of the team is graduating, but it’s really a great way to end your senior year. And me and my doubles partner, we’re heading to states, so it’s really just a great way to end your senior year.”

Batcheller, Bender, Del Prete, Tomaro and Vanderschaaf are all seniors and will be graduating in June. While the Lady Canes shouldn’t take a big step back next season, if at all, with freshmen in Hayes and Stabile returning along with what will be a handful of upperclassmen, Czartosieski said the voids left by the seniors will be tough to fill.

“They’ve been the nucleus of the team the last four years, some of them five years since they were in eighth grade,” he said. “They worked so hard and I knew of their potential when they first joined the team as eighth and ninth graders. I couldn’t be happier for them.

“Those are tough shoes to fill because they’re positions in the ladder that are important,” he said. “But I think all the girls returning, and the girls that join the team next year, I think they’re all going to be excited for the challenge.”

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