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04/08/16 8:53pm
04/08/2016 8:53 PM

Shoreham-Wading River tennis player Chris Kuhnle 040816

As one might expect of a top high school tennis player, Chris Kuhnle brings many weapons with him onto the court. For one thing, there is his impressive shot-making ability. And his knack for returning shots like a machine can sap the spirit out of an opponent.

Perhaps just as importantly, the Shoreham-Wading River senior can do something else: He can adjust his game.
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05/27/15 1:00pm
05/27/2015 1:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (25-0), who hasn't had to play a third set this season, is the Suffolk County singles champion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Shoreham-Wading River junior Chris Kuhnle (25-0), who hasn’t had to play a third set this season, is the Suffolk County singles champion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Chris Kuhnle had not been extended to a third set all season, so why should things have changed for the Suffolk County boys tennis individual tournament? The Shoreham-Wading River junior lived up to his No. 1 seed, beating all four opponents he faced to capture the county singles title.

Kuhnle defeated the No. 2 seed, Stephen Gruppuso of Bayport-Blue Point, 6-2, 6-3, in the final last Wednesday at William Floyd High School. The result brought Kuhnle’s record to 25-0 and made him the first Shoreham boy to win a county crown since Christopher Cahill, who accomplished the feat over 20 years ago, according to Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen. (more…)

03/27/15 5:00pm
03/27/2015 5:00 PM
Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Christopher Kuhnle returns to play first singles for Shoreham-Wading River this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

 

PREVIEW

Debbie Lutjen, who coached the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys tennis team from 1986 to 1995, has returned to the Wildcats, taking over the team from Chris Bevelander.

Lutjen, who also coaches Shoreham’s girls tennis team, was asked if she noticed any changes in the boys game since she last coached the Shoreham boys.

“I think it’s changed in the same way that girls tennis has,” she said. “The top players are putting more time in out of season and playing year-round, so that’s raising the overall level of the players we have competing.” (more…)

09/04/14 5:00pm
09/04/2014 5:00 PM
The Shoreham-Wading River High School tennis courts have been closed and locked since March after they were declared unsafe. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

The Shoreham-Wading River High School tennis courts have been closed and locked since March after they were declared unsafe. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

PREVIEW

No shortage of challenges face the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls tennis team this fall. For one thing, the Wildcats do not have the use of their home courts, which have fallen into serious disrepair and are unplayable. If that wasn’t enough, for the first time in seven years, they will be without Aimee Manfredo, one of the top players in the program’s proud history. (more…)

10/15/13 8:21pm
10/15/2013 8:21 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo said her backhand was the MVP of her strokes Tuesday when she won her third Division IV singles title.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo said her backhand was the MVP of her strokes Tuesday when she won her third Division IV singles title.

DIVISION IV INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

They don’t give out any trophies or medals for winning the Suffolk County Division IV girls tennis singles title, but Aimee Manfredo did bring home some intriguing spoils of victory Tuesday: the draw sheet of the tournament and a bag of candy corn — her favorite candy — given to her by her teammates.

“I have the draw sheets from every time I’ve won,” the three-time division champion said. “So it’s a nice little memory.”

Manfredo certainly also brought home some nice memories from William Floyd High School, as the Shoreham-Wading River senior culminated a brilliant tournament and performance with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Eastport/South Manor’s Jackie Bukzin. In her five tourney matches, Manfredo lost only four games.

Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen called the win “very efficient. Awesome. Very few mistakes throughout the whole match. She kept herself in control the entire match.”

While she savored winning another league crown, Manfredo realized that she had yet another challenge looming over the horizon — the county championships at Smithtown East High School on Saturday and Monday.

“I think I’m going to rest tonight and then get back because I need to eat my candy corn, so I don’t think I should eat it and play tennis.” she said. “I’ll definitely be back [Wednesday].”

And then Manfredo will set her sights on winning her first county title. She reached the final last year.

“I expect a tougher draw because … [the division tournament] wasn’t really competition until the semis and finals,” she said. “That’s when I was really focused and tried to play my best tennis. I expect the counties will be every single match you will have to play your best match to get there. I really just have to hope that I am on my game that day.”

So does Lutjen, who has high hopes for Manfredo.

“Playing the way she played today, the sky’s the limit,” Lutjen said. “If she plays like this, she’s as good as anyone out there. She’s really playing well. She’s playing the best tennis of her career right now. That’s what you want. You want to be peaking at the right time going into the tournament. She’s playing with confidence and playing with a lot of maturity and control.”

Manfredo demonstrated that Tuesday, breaking Bukzin’s service four times.

“I played really well,” she said. “I warmed up really well. I felt I was hitting the ball great. Then I got into the match and I was so nervous because the last match I played against her went to three sets. It was: ‘Oh my gosh. It was going to be tough.’ I just came off hitting well on both sides. Nothing bothered me. In my last match, I had some issues. If I lost a game, I would be like, ‘Oh my God, you’re going to lose.’ But today, I don’t even remembering those two games. I just forgot about everything and played my game.”

The key to Manfredo’s game was a strong backhand.

“I loved my backhand today,” she said. “I think that was the MVP of my strokes. My backhand was really solid today and she tried to attack it. But I just got it back every single time. My forehand, I made more errors off of it, although I was winning points. I just felt more solid off my backhand and I could hit like 100 shots in a row. Hit it to my backhand, I’m hitting it back.”

In the doubles consolation match, Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Mike Clauberg found himself in the enviable and unique position of watching an encounter between a pair of friends and teammates from his own school. The M&Ms — Shannon Merker and Delaney Macchirole — defeated Z-squared — Jackie Zaweski and Micaela Zebroski, 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s great,” he said. “I’m just happy that we have four All-County selections, which I believe is the first time in school history. Both teams played really well today.”

09/04/13 10:00am
09/04/2013 10:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Merker, Bishop McGann-Mercy’s senior captain, was called the best doubles player Mike Clauberg has ever coached.

PREVIEW

If this is the golden era of Bishop McGann-Mercy girls tennis, the shine on that gilt may be getting duller.

The Monarchs have enjoyed great success, reaching the playoffs the past five years and compiling a 55-7 league record during that time. Prior to last season, they had an unbeaten string at home that lasted for nearly five years.

All of that, of course, was not by happenstance.

“We put a lot of time into the program,” said coach Mike Clauberg, referring to elementary school, junior high school and summer camp programs.

Currently, two former McGann-Mercy players, Liz Rossi (Mount St. Mary’s) and Cassidy Lessard (Wagner), are playing in college. The Monarchs undoubtedly wish they still had them. Clauberg, who is in his 13th year as the team’s coach, said he sees a lot of holes in his lineup.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think we’re going to pull any miracles this year,” he said. “This is one of my most inexperienced teams in a lot of years.”

McGann-Mercy went 12-6 last year, reaching the Suffolk County Team Tournament quarterfinals for the third year in a row. Returning to that stage will not be easy, although Clauberg said qualifying for the playoffs is a realistic goal. A League VII team, McGann-Mercy is ranked fifth among League VII and League VIII teams by the coaches. The Monarchs face a tough schedule, too. They will play four of the top eight teams in Suffolk in league matches: William Floyd, East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson, Westhampton Beach and The Ross School.

Two seniors head McGann-Mercy’s returning cast, Shannon Merker and Jackie Zaweski. Merker, the team captain, played for the top two doubles teams as well as second singles last year. She was an all-division selection along with Jamie Lessard, a sophomore.

Speaking of Merker, Clauberg said, “She’s the best doubles player I ever coached.”

Delaney Macchirole, who played first doubles with fellow junior Micaela Zebroski last year, is also back. Magda Duda was part of the singles lineup last season at the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. Brittany Folkes played third doubles and fourth singles. Katie Brownfield was a third doubles player.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Clauberg said. “We’re going to be an underdog this year for the first time in a long time.”

 

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Aimee Manfredo returns for her sixth varsity season with a 63-19 career record with Shoreham-Wading River.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Aimee Manfredo returns for her sixth varsity season with a 63-19 career record with Shoreham-Wading River.

Shoreham-Wading River has produced some pretty good players over the years, such as Cath Galvin, who was a two-time county champion, and Jennifer LoRusso, who has a county title on her résumé as well. Aimee Manfredo ranks right up there with them, according to coach Debbie Lutjen, who has been coaching in the program since 1984.

Private lessons and the experience of playing in United States Tennis Association tournaments has made a difference. Manfredo brings a 63-19 career record into her senior season and sixth at the varsity level. The two-time Division IV singles champion was a county runner-up who went 17-1 last year.

Lutjen said Manfredo is “very strong, very motivated. I think she’s very excited about her senior season. She loves the game.”

Although the lineup was being finalized, Lutjen said two sisters, freshman Joelle Benigno and eighth-grader Daniella Benigno, will play second and third singles. Michelle Hoffmann, a sophomore, and junior Anna Simos were competing for the fourth singles position. Heather Sager, a sophomore who was the junior varsity team’s top singles player last year, is projected to be a doubles player.

Another sophomore, Katya Perricone, is ranked sixth among singles candidates and is expected to fill a doubles spot. She is new to the team along with junior McKenna Farrell, freshman Amanda Betiberis and sophomore Katie Stern.

“We have a strong group of girls,” said Lutjen.

Riverhead (7-9) finds itself in an interesting situation in terms of personnel.

“I lost a lot but …,” said coach Jerry Duvall, who at the same time conceded that his team returns a good deal of experienced players, many of them juniors.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Lydia Keiffert is the favorite to play first singles.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Lydia Keiffert is the favorite to play first singles.

Since last year, Riverhead lost five players, all of whom were slotted in key lineup positions, and yet it’s not as if the Blue Waves can cry poverty. They still have seven players back who were in the lineup in 2012. That includes junior Lydia Keiffert, senior Michelle Behr and junior Katherine Chmielewski, who look destined for places in the singles lineup along with what Duvall referred to as “a player to be named later.”

That’s not a bad starting point. “Lydia, Michelle and Katherine are not bad singles players,” said Duvall.

Keiffert played first doubles and second singles last year behind the graduated Charlotte Palmer and seems poised to make the jump to first singles.

“She’s our most experienced singles player,” Duvall said. “She keeps the ball in play. She’s fast and runs real quick. She can make the other person run, too.”

Behr and Chmielewski both saw time at third and fourth singles, as did Samantha Carter, a junior.

Two juniors, Cassidy Brown and Abigail Wehunt, played a lot at first doubles and formed what Duvall called his most consistent doubles team. Another junior, Jessica Purick, has varsity experience as a doubles player.

Danielle Alaimo, a junior, and Amy Methven, a sophomore, are also returning players.

Courtney Troyan, a sophomore who was one of the top singles players on the junior varsity team last year, is a new addition. Perla Leon is a senior who can play doubles. Paired at doubles are juniors Kate Prjlaina and Danielle Alaimo, freshmen Taylor Marelli and Kathleen Gregory, and juniors Brianne Corwin and Stefanie Costello.

“These kids have great potential,” Duvall said. “They’re all gung-ho kids. They’re all anxious to play.”

Duvall said he appreciates the “team-first” attitude of his players. He said, “It may be the most unselfish team of players I’ve had the privilege to coach.”

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