Girls Tennis: Before the playoffs, teams play waiting game

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10/15/2013 10:30 PM |
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Merker plays for one of Bishop McGann-Mercy's All-County doubles teams.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Merker plays for one of Bishop McGann-Mercy’s All-County doubles teams.

You can’t fight city hall.

To put a twist on that old saying, the Bishop McGann-Mercy girls tennis coach, Mike Clauberg, offers this: “You can’t fight Section XI.”

Clauberg, concerned about what Suffolk County’s interscholastic sports governing body will do with his team in regard to the upcoming county team tournament, may have been like many coaches early this week, anxious to see if their teams would be placed into the 24-team tournament and, if so, who their opponents would be.

A seeding meeting was planned for Tuesday morning. In the meantime, coaches played the waiting game. The tournament is scheduled to start with an outbracket match on Thursday.

“It’s the luck of the draw,” said Clauberg.

Mattituck (12-0), as the League VIII champion, is assured of one of those 24 playoff spots.

“You would like to see how you measure up against some of the other schools in the county,” said Tuckers coach Jim Christy, whose team concluded a perfect regular season last Wednesday with a 7-0 defeat of Hampton Bays. “The reality is, as in any sport, you’re going to end up, with the exception of one team, with a loss. So, you see how far you can go.”

The Tuckers enjoyed a tremendous regular season in which they won four matches by 4-3 scores. A big part of Mattituck’s success has been the play of younger players like eighth-grade third singles player Liz Dwyer and first doubles players Anna Kowalski and Courtney Penny, who are both sophomores. They are All-Division players and reached the Division IV Tournament quarterfinals on Monday, as did Mattituck’s first singles player, senior Molly Kowalski, who is Anna’s sister.

Mattituck’s singles lineup is strong. Kyra Martin, who plays second singles, won eight of 10 league matches. Dwyer went 12-0 in league play, and eighth-grader Emily Mowdy went 11-1.

But unlike last year, when the Tuckers relied heavily on singles, Christy said the Tuckers have been picking up points with stronger doubles play as well.

Kowalski and Penny went 10-2 during the regular season. Meanwhile, the two other doubles pairings — Christine Bieber and Melissa Hickox, and Julie Krudop and Haley Martin — went 8-4.

“They took it serious,” Christy said. “They went out and they competed, and they were rewarded for competing.”

Christy said he didn’t know how good of a season it would be until the team’s season-opening match, a 4-3 win over Southampton.

Christy, who expected his team to be seeded around 12th, said he is eager to see the bracket sheet released.

“You want to see who the first team is so you can kind of help the girls prepare for it,” he said, noting that the Tuckers will scrimmage William Floyd on Thursday in preparation for their playoff match.

McGann-Mercy’s 6-8 record (2-8 in League VII) may not be particularly impressive, but Clauberg is quick to point out that the Monarchs play in what he considers the toughest league in the county, with the exception of League I. “People don’t realize how competitive we are against the top teams,” he said. Clauberg pointed out that his team defeated Miller Place, a playoff team, by a 6-1 score.

Clauberg said his team, which reached the county quarterfinals the last three years, should be seeded anywhere between 12th and 18th.

McGann-Mercy’s top two doubles teams — the pairing of senior Shannon Merker and junior Delaney Macchirole, and the duo of senior Jackie Zaweski and junior Micaela Zeboroski — both earned All-County status this year by reaching the Division IV semifinals.

Despite being hit hard by injuries and not having as much depth as they had in the past, the Monarchs produced a 6-1 win over William Floyd in their final regular-season match on Friday to remain in postseason contention. They prevailed without one of their singles starters, sophomore Jamie Lessard, who attended a funeral that day.

Macchirole (4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) over Laura Kesnig), Katie Brownfield (6-3, 6-4 over Nicole Horn) and Nicole Gravagna (6-3, 6-3 over Emily Cereoli) brought the Monarchs wins at singles. In addition, the Monarchs swept the three doubles matches. Merker and Angelika Osiniak defeated Sarah Jurgielewicz and Cassie Rivera, 6-4, 6-3; Zaweski and Savannah Seijka beat Taylor Bourguignon and Julia Cutler, 6-1, 6-2; and Sally Burdiladize and Magda Duda were 6-0, 6-2 winners over Sam Quinn and Sam Skolas.

The only point McGann-Mercy lost was at first singles, with Jackie Dukzin handing Zeboroski a 6-0, 6-1 loss.

The Monarchs, who are in their third straight year in League VII, will be dropped down to League VIII next year, something that Clauberg is not happy about. There is a considerable difference in talent between the two leagues, and Clauberg likes the competition League VII offers his players.

“You want to be in League VII,” he said. “You want to play the top dog. It’s like being in an AP course.”

In the meantime, Clauberg was looking forward to a favorable seeding for his team in the county tournament. The waiting game continued for him and the other coaches.

“We’ll see,” Christy said. “You focus on the season and you basically think about everything after the season is over as kind of gravy. You relax and have a good time.”

bliepa@timesreview.com