How fitting. Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School unveiled new tennis courts and in their first year playing on the Keith Goodale Memorial Tennis Courts, the Monarchs win a league championship.
Not that league championships are anything new to Mercy. The Monarchs have won six of them, the first coming in 2005. But when undefeated Mercy, playing on those courts, scored a 6-1 victory over Eastport-South Manor on Friday, it clinched the Suffolk County League VII title, and that meant something.
“To be able to win a championship the first year the courts were built makes it special,” said Mike Clauberg, who has coached the team since 2001.
Mercy (12-0, 10-0), which last lost a home match in 2014 to Mattituck, had bid adieu to six starters from last year’s league champion team and was ranked third in the league in the preseason.
“It was a little bit of a shock to be competitive this year,” said Clauberg.
Then again, maybe not. Not with the additions of two young players, seventh-grader Rose Hayes and freshman Sophia Anzalone, who play the first two singles positions.
“They’re probably in the top five of the greatest players we ever had,” Clauberg said. “These kids are real special.”
They head a singles lineup that may be the strongest Clauberg has ever had. After Hayes (10-2) and Anzalone (11-0) are freshman Kelsey Bundrick (11-1) at third singles and senior Margaret Terry (11-1) at fourth singles.
The first doubles team consists of senior Angelika Osiniak and sophomore Brooke Kappenberg. Two seniors, Laura Blomberg and Madison O’Connor, play second doubles. Positioned at third doubles are senior Emily Cleary and sophomore Jamie Densieski.
Osiniak and Terry are the team captains.
Going into yesterday’s home match against Center Moriches, Mercy had swept all seven team points in six matches and won 74 of 84 individual matches.
“It’s a really great group of kids,” Clauberg said. “They’re just fun-loving. I get a lot of compliments on how they treat one another, how they treat other teams.”
And what about those new courts? Mercy used to have only four courts, but now has six, and they’re painted green.
“We’re dealing with Mercy pride, the colors of the school,” Clauberg said. “Beautifully done, a really nice surface. It looks like a college tennis court.”
Those courts were to be formally dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony prior to yesterday’s match. It was Senior Day, and Clauberg planned to present his seniors with special banners marking the 2015 and 2016 league titles the team has won.
Photo caption: The McGann-Mercy girls tennis team stretches on its new courts during its first official practice in August. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)