Mitchell Clinches Three-Set Win, Important Match for Bonac Tennis - 27 East

Mitchell Clinches Three-Set Win, Important Match for Bonac Tennis

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East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell rallies for the win at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell rallies for the win at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell is congratulated by senior captain Max Astilean and head coach Kevin McConville following his three-set win that clinched the match for the Bonackers. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell is congratulated by senior captain Max Astilean and head coach Kevin McConville following his three-set win that clinched the match for the Bonackers. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean serves at No. 1 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean serves at No. 1 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper focuses on the ball before a putaway at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper focuses on the ball before a putaway at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean keeps the volley going at No. 1 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean keeps the volley going at No. 1 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell stays composed at the baseline at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell stays composed at the baseline at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper serves at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper serves at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper reaches for a return at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior Nick Cooper reaches for a return at No. 2 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean, at No. 1 singles, keeps his eyes on the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton senior Max Astilean, at No. 1 singles, keeps his eyes on the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior No. 2 singles standout Nick Cooper races for the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton junior No. 2 singles standout Nick Cooper races for the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell volleys for his match point at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

East Hampton sophomore Kiefer Mitchell volleys for his match point at No. 3 singles. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Desirée Keegan on May 3, 2023

Kiefer Mitchell has proved long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.

And the East Hampton sophomore did it while clinching a key 4-3 nonleague win for the Bonackers tennis team Monday.

“That felt exhilarating,” Mitchell said. “It was a long match, and I’m happy I was able to pull through. Everyone was counting on me — I felt the team spirit — so I couldn’t let them down. I think we’ve got a good shot at winning the whole thing.”

Mitchell remained steady and composed across a tight battle with Half Hollow Hills East’s Lohit Madisetty to pull away with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 win at No. 3 singles and lift East Hampton over one of the top teams in League I. It will give the Bonackers (8-2, 8-0) a boost come time to seed for the Suffolk County team tournament.

“We are one of, if not the best team in our division, so we have to compete with other top teams in the county for the best seeding we can get,” junior Nick Cooper said. “And, seeing how well everyone has been playing, I am confident that we can make a great showing.”

Head coach Kevin McConville said Cooper, who was first off the court with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sam Stein, and Mitchell have been important playmakers this season, and knows he can count on them with it all on the line.

“All of the guys work really well under pressure, but Kiefer dealt with the pressure the best,” the coach said. “He’s got the absolute perfect personality to be in that situation. The whole time he just wanted to play fast and do whatever he had to do.”

Up 30-15 in the game, Mitchell secured two straight points to tie the third set at 4-4 and bounced back from being down 30-0 to take a point that knotted things at 5-5. The sophomore then hit cruise control and used consistent groundstrokes to take the next two games and the match over Hills East (10-2, 7-1). Even with his opponent’s drop shots and trick plays for points, Mitchell said he told himself that if he just kept the ball inbounds, everything would work out.

“He doesn’t need coaching. He doesn’t need my help,” McConville said. “He’s so focused no matter what — and it’s not the first time I’ve seem him do this. He’s unflappable.”

Cooper said keeping calm is everything in a close match.

“I think that something totally underrated in the sport is your mental ability during a match, and Kiefer is great with that,” the junior said. “It’s OK to be critical of your bad shots, but it’s important to have your head up and play your best, and I think everyone on the team has improved with that tremendously.”

Cooper, himself, has seen immense growth in his own game. He exploited his challenger with his cross-court backhand, which most of his winners came from, and even after Stein made some adjustments down the stretch, switched his own strategy to do him in. He even topped his own teammate Max Astilean, a senior in the No. 1 slot, 6-2, 6-0, during practice the same day.

“He was better than that kid he faced, but I was so impressed with his tennis,” McConville said of Cooper. “He’s beaming after his matches today.”

The No. 2 singles standout said he has to thank his coach for the developments in his technique.

“My entire net game and my serve used to be horrible, but these past few years, and particularly this season, have really helped me get over this hurdle,” Cooper said. “I’ve been practicing a lot and playing really well, so it’s always fun to show that off against other good teams.”

The junior’s younger brother, Henry, a freshman, also earned a win over Hills East, 6-1, 6-3, at No. 4 singles, and senior Armando Rangel and junior Miguel Garcia topped their opponents, 7-5, 6-1, at No. 2 doubles.

McConville was also electrified by another spirited win, a 6-1 defeat of Ross last week that keeps the Bonackers atop the League IV standings with three games left in the regular season. The coach said the matchups come at a crucial time.

“I didn’t know how good Ross was until we played them, and Half Hollow Hills East was another awesome test,” McConville said. “These guys are playing so well, and it’s been fun. We’re peaking at the right time.”

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