There’s certainly nothing like experience.
For the first time during his three year-tenure as the Riverhead High School girls golf coach, Steve Failla has four seniors who he can rely on, which makes him quite optimistic entering the season.
“This is the first time we have real experience coming back,” he said. “They’re really committed to what they’re doing.”
Last year’s team won two matches, tying the school record for most wins in a season. The girls golf program is very young, entering only its fifth year this spring.
“We definitely expected to create another record,” Failla said. “I’ll tell you what, we have the potential to be in the mix for the playoffs. That would be a nice way to send our seniors off.”
The Blue Waves will begin their season by hosting Mount Sinai at Cherry Creek Golf Links on Tuesday.
While the seniors are the backbone of this team, the No. 1 golfer is a junior, Kaylee Wells, who has been the top seed for three consecutive seasons.
“She works very hard,” Failla said. “She’s strong off the tee. She always keeps it on the fairway. Very consistent.”
Consistency will be the key for the Blue Waves, and that’s where four seniors — Kathryn Brophy, Corey Giannuzzi, Rebecca Merker and Carina Oliva — come in.
Failla said that Brophy and Giannuzzi “have worked very hard this off-season. I have high expectations for them. They spent a lot of time on the driving range and chipping for their short game.”
Merker, who missed last season because of injury, has something to prove this spring.
“She was real upset last year because she couldn’t play,” Failla said. “She had to work hard to get back into playing shape, and I hope she goes on to help us this year.”
Another senior, Oliva, has shown much promise in the preseason.
“She has been very inconsistent in years past, kind of like the rest of us, but she’s shown more consistency this season,” said Failla.
Failla’s optimism doesn’t stop with the seniors. Three relative newcomers have given him a reason or two to smile.
Junior Oliva Serpico, a field hockey player, is playing golf for the first time this spring.
“She never saw a golf club until three months ago,” Failla said. “She’s going to make a push to start this year. She takes that competitive fire she demonstrates on the field hockey field and brings it to her golf game. She’s motivated.”
Eighth grader Abygale Brophy, the younger sister of Kathryn, also is making a push to start. “She has all the tools to become a great golfer,” Failla said. “She has to become more consistent. She has a bright future in the sport.”
Failla noted that the Brophy’s father “is a very good golfer. So they’re getting outstanding coaching at home as well.”
Junior Jill Zaremba, who is playing golf in her second year, “already has improved greatly,” he said.
Another junior, Karyn Torre, is expected to miss the season due to injuries she sustained in a recent ski accident.