Westhampton Beach Girls Tennis Looks To Take Suffolk Team Title - 27 East

Westhampton Beach Girls Tennis Looks To Take Suffolk Team Title

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Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach junior Matilda Buchen. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile and junior Matilda Buchen placed seventh in last year's state doubles tournament. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Julia Stabile and junior Matilda Buchen placed seventh in last year's state doubles tournament. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Westhampton Beach senior Melina Pinonzek. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Desirée Keegan on Sep 13, 2023

The Westhampton Beach girls tennis team has made it to the Suffolk County playoffs every season since the Hurricanes won the title — the program’s first in a decade — back in 2018.

And while the team made it to the finals again in 2021, and the semifinals last season, it’s still yet to reclaim the crown. But that might change this year. With nearly the entirety of last season’s group returning, plus a key addition, head coach Matt Reed said the expectation is to win another championship.

“I believe we have the depth to do it, and a very strong, experienced and motivated team,” said the third-year head coach. “There are other very good teams as well, so I’m excited to see where we stack up against them, but I am very confident about my team this season and what we are going to accomplish.”

All-State standouts Julia Stabile, a senior, and Matilda Buchen, a junior, will lead the way for the Hurricanes. Both dominated singles matches while also finishing seventh in the state in the individual doubles tournament.

“Having All-State players like Matilda and Julia returning to the team is such a blessing,” Reed said. “The junior and senior returning players have continued to improve each year and have made great strides in their doubles skills, which is another reason why our depth will be tough to match this year. I’ve been very fortunate to have teams each year that have bonded almost immediately, and this year has been no different.”

Buchen said she and Stabile practiced together every week this offseason, and have already seen vast improvement. She said she has been focused on her volleys.

“Practicing together has strengthened our chemistry,” the junior said. “And Julia has also improved immensely. She is even better at the net than she was last year.”

Stabile said the pair has placed an emphasis on their communication and movement on the court, while the senior is also working on her strength and conditioning, which she feels will bode well for her when faced with tight matches late in the season.

“Matilda and I are even more motivated than ever to go further than we did last year,” she said. “Hopefully, our hard work will pay off.”

Still, Stabile said entering her fifth and final season with the team is bittersweet.

“I am definitely going to appreciate this year,” the senior said. “I am thankful that I am able to play again with Matilda this season. She is a skilled tennis player and great friend. I will miss the team and the camaraderie, so I’m going to hold on to that throughout the season.”

Her coach said he’s happy this group is where it’s at for Stabile’s final season, and hopeful for a successful one for the five-year starter.

“[Julia] is someone I wish would never leave the team,” Reed said. “Her dedication, work ethic, skill and sportsmanship are unrivaled, in my opinion.”

Also returning is senior Melina Pinonzek, who also qualified for the Suffolk County singles tournament her first time competing in the Division IV draw, and has captained the team each of the last two seasons, her coach said, “due to her 100 percent dedication to the team.” She even takes part in offseason fundraising for the Hurricanes, along with childhood cancer research through the Key Club, one of three groups she is a member of. Pinonzek is also president of the National Honor Society.

“She is incredible. The epitome of a student-athlete,” Reed said. “She has been instrumental, and I am not looking forward to her graduating. She will be greatly missed.”

Ava Borruso and Zoe Grellet-Aumont are also back this year. The coach said he has high expectations for Borusso, an eighth-grader, and Grellet-Aumont, a freshman, whom he said are already surpassing some of them.

“They both had very strong seasons last year, and are now a year older, stronger and more experienced,” Reed said. “I’m excited to see how far they can go with the team, of course, but also in the individual tournament.”

New to the group this year is Ana-maria Bichinashvilli, a senior who moved to the district last year from the country of Georgia.

“She’s a great asset to have to our team,” Stabile said. “She has good technique and match experience.”

“[She] is very solid on the court,” Buchen added. “She has very nice form and can really put the ball away.”

What is also new this year is that Suffolk County adopted the format already used in Nassau County and the state where lineups consist of three singles and four doubles matchups. Previously, four singles and three doubles matches took place each meet.

“I’m excited to see how our new lineup will work out,” Reed said. “The new singles/doubles format definitely changes up the strategy.”

It seems to be effective so far, as the Hurricanes are 5-0 overall and 1-0 in League IV after a dominating 7-0 win over Ward Melville September 8.

“I think our team is stronger this year. I’m excited about each girl,” Buchen said. “I have seen improvement in everyone. You can tell they have been putting in work during the offseason, and coach Reed has also incorporated all of us into drills and games, so it’s nice to play with many different levels and styles of play.”

Stabile echoed that Reed has been a motivating factor.

“Not only is he a great tennis coach, but he is the epitome of what it means to work hard and be a leader,” she said. “He brings out the best in all of us.”

The senior added this has energized the Hurricanes to forge a path toward a deep run.

“I’m excited. Our team has come together nicely,” Stabile said. “Everyone on the team has their own skill sets and eagerness to help each other. We motivate each other on and off the court. We know that there are other teams with a lot of experience, but we feel prepared for what’s to come. We always expect the unexpected and play match by match, but everyone on the team is driven and ready to give it our all.”

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