East Hampton Boys Tennis Team Falls in Suffolk Semifinals - 27 East

East Hampton Boys Tennis Team Falls in Suffolk Semifinals

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East Hampton junior Nick Cooper. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Armando Rangel. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Armando Rangel. MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson junior Chris Pilarski. MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson junior Chris Pilarski. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton junior Jesse Cohen. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton junior Jesse Cohen. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton junior Jesse Cohen. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton junior Jesse Cohen. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Miguel Garcia. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Miguel Garcia. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Miguel Garcia. MARIANNE BARNETT

East Hampton senior Miguel Garcia. MARIANNE BARNETT

Desirée Keegan on May 30, 2023

The East Hampton boys tennis team put up a good fight, but the No. 3 Bonackers (14-3) were no match for No. 2-seeded Ward Melville, as the team fell to the Patriots, 5-2, in the Suffolk County semifinals on May 24.

“As I’ve said all season, it’s Ward Melville’s year,” said East Hampton head coach Kevin McConville. “They’re loaded.”

After East Hampton junior Cameron Mitchell fell to sophomore Shashank Pennabadi 6-0, 6-0, senior Armando Rangel and Pierson junior Chris Pilarski were next off the court with a 6-1, 6-0 first doubles defeat at the hands of junior Gabe Bursztyn, who won the county doubles title with Pennabadi, and classmate Robbie Monticciolo. East Hampton senior Max Astilean then lost, 6-2, 6-3, to junior Harshith Pennabadi. The singles standout, who was supposed to face Astilean in the Suffolk County individual consolation finals on May 22, was ranked No. 2 heading into that tournament. He fell to No. 3 Bryan Volk, a junior out of Half Hollow Hills West, in the quarterfinals, and conceded the consolation match to rest a sore right patella tendon in preparation for the team tournament matchup.

Freshman Kiefer Mitchell, who had played second, third and fourth singles across the season, lost next, in three sets, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, to eighth-grader Aidan Thomas in the No. 4 slot to give the Patriots (19-1) the win. Mitchell hadn’t dropped a singles match all year.

“He had a great season,” McConville said of Mitchell. “He just had a bad day for his high standards.”

While those matches were wrapping up, junior Nick Cooper began a tiebreaker he won, 10-3, after splitting sets with senior Chris Decker, 5-7, 7-5. Cooper was up, 5-2, in the first set before Decker took the next four points, and 3-0 in the second before trading the final few. Finishing after him was senior Miguel Garcia and freshman Jagger Cohen, who were close to mounting a comeback against junior Ben Wu and sophomore Jacob Zilberstein, whom they dropped the match to, 6-2, 7-5. The Bonackers duo had gone up, 5-4, in the second set.

Also battling it out for a win was junior Jesse Cohen and freshman Henry Cooper, who edged senior Ethan Timm and junior Max Schoolman in tiebreakers to take the two sets, 6-6 (7-4), 6-6 (7-4).

“It felt good because we’ve never played together, but we ended up having good chemistry,” Cooper said. “Jesse is very good at net — he has enough power to launch balls over the fence. I was serving pretty good, so after I served Jesse was able to put the ball away at the net.”

The pair bounced back from being down, 5-4, to take a 6-5 lead in the second en route to the win.

“We were playing very smart throughout the whole match, and being decisive with our shots,” Cooper said. “We started hitting softer, but deeper, so that the opponents had a hard time returning the ball deep, meaning the person at net could poach and end the point.”

Ward Melville had won 19 straight this season, but ended up falling, 4-3, to the No. 1 Commack Cougars (17-0), who are the defending state champions that have now won 54 straight matches and three consecutive county crowns — four in the past five seasons.

Cooper said regardless of the outcome, he’s enjoyed the season, and know his Bonackers are motivated to take it a step further next season.

“It’s been fun, and I’ve grown a close relationship with everyone on the team,” Cooper said. “We boost each other’s confidence and support each other, but at the same time, we make each other better by competing with and against each other. This year and last, we have come so close that we believe if we play well, we can win it all.”

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