10/09/14 7:40pm
10/09/2014 7:40 PM

BLUE WAVES 6, CLIPPERS 1

The last day of the high school girls tennis regular season brought one last chance for Riverhead and Southold/Greenport to win — something they haven’t done a lot this fall. In search of a rare victory, the two bottom teams in Suffolk County League VIII that began the day with only one win between them, were in for a surprise.

When the teams arrived in Peconic for Thursday’s match, they found the four courts at Robert W. Tasker Memorial Park unavailable because of maintenance work being done to the courts. That meant that all seven of the individual matches had to be played on the three courts across the street at Jean W. Cochran Park. Southold/Greenport usually uses the courts at both of the parks for their home matches.

With less than three hours of daylight to work with (the courts are not lighted), both Riverhead coach Jerry Duvall and Southold/Greenport coach Howie Geismar agreed that each match would be a pro set, with the first to win eight games the winner.

It worked out well for Riverhead, which snapped a five-match losing streak and finished its season on a winning note thanks to a 6-1 result. It was the Blue Waves’ first win since they defeated the Clippers by the same score on Sept. 19. (more…)

10/03/14 7:51pm
10/03/2014 7:51 PM
Emily Mowdy contributed to Mattituck's singles sweep against Bishop McGann-Mercy. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Emily Mowdy contributed to Mattituck’s singles sweep against Bishop McGann-Mercy. (Credit: Garret Meade)

TUCKERS 4, MONARCHS 3

When the top two high school girls tennis teams in Suffolk County League VII lined up to exchange postmatch high fives, it was the Mattituck Tuckers who were wearing smiles on their faces. They had a lot to smile about.

That is because the Tuckers withstood what could be seen as the last major obstacle to a second straight league championship. Drew Hahn’s victory at fourth singles completed a sweep of all four singles matches for the Tuckers and clinched a 4-3 triumph over Bishop McGann-Mercy on Friday at Mattituck High School. With three matches remaining, the Tuckers (10-1, 9-0) can clinch at least a share of the league title with a win over Southold/Greenport on Monday. An automatic playoff spot also comes with the league crown. (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…)

12/24/13 7:00am
12/24/2013 7:00 AM
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 | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo joined an elite group this fall when she won her third straight division championship in tennis.

It was just the beginning for the Bradley University-bound tennis star. She went on to win the county singles title and remained undefeated heading into the state championship. She became only the third girl in Shoreham history to win a county singles title.

At the state championship, Manfredo advanced into the semifinals before dropping her first match of the season. She closed out the season with a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

11/06/13 5:00pm
11/06/2013 5:00 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, shown here during the division championship, placed fourth in the state singles tournament, which concluded Monday.

On Tuesday night Aimee Manfredo attended the all-county girls tennis dinner, where she received her hardware for winning the Section XI singles title. It was a rare day off for the Shoreham-Wading River senior, who a day earlier competed in the consolation final of the state championship in Latham, N.Y.

“Today was my break, so tomorrow I go back to training,” Manfredo said.

No time for rest, even with the season behind her.

On Monday Manfredo wrapped up a brilliant career at Shoreham. A six-year varsity player, she completed her best individual finish, placing fourth in the state singles tournament. She lost to Olga Ostrovetsky of Wallkill, 6-4, 6-1, in the consolation final to finish her varsity career with an 89-21 record. She was undefeated heading into the state championship and finished the season 26-2.

“Everything went really well,” she said. “It was a good way to end the season.”

Manfredo won three matches to advance into the semifinals before she fell to second-seeded Sabrina Barisano of Ursuline School, 6-1, 6-1.

Manfredo won her first two matches easily Saturday in straight sets. In the quarterfinals Sunday she fought one of her toughest matches of the year, a three-setter against sixth-seeded Taylor Cosme of Herricks, the Nassau county champion. Manfredo won the first set, 6-3, but then lost the second 6-7 (5).

“In the second set I think I tried to end it too quickly, because I had a couple match points,” Manfredo said. “I got too excited, so in the third set I just really focused on playing my game and just playing every point like it’s the last.”

She bounced back to take the third set, 6-4, assuring herself a spot on the podium as an all-state finisher.

“After I got to the semis I felt like I could breathe,” she said.

The only problem for Manfredo was after the stirring, three-set win, she had just 45 minutes to recoup before having to play her semifinal match. That differed from a United States Tennis Association match, which would have provided 75 minutes between matches, she said.

In the consolation final Monday, Manfredo battled Ostrovetsky tight in the first set.

“In the first set we just didn’t break each other’s serves until it was 5-4 her,” Manfredo said. “Then she got the first break point and converted it. But she played really well.”

Manfredo’s season was the second best individual performance in school history behind Cath Galvin’s second-place finish, according to coach Debbie Lutjen.

“She joined an elite group of players,” Lutjen said.

Manfredo will now prepare for her college career starting next fall at Bradley University. She’ll be back on the courts this week, but not before she allowed herself one luxury.

“I did get mani-pedis, so that was good,” she said.

joew@timesreview.com

10/21/13 6:47pm
10/21/2013 6:47 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo and coach Debbie Lutjen after Monday’s Section XI singles final.

SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIP

As the final ball shot off Aimee Manfredo’s racket and whipped over the net, landing just inside the sideline, the Shoreham-Wading River senior clenched her left hand into a fist and exhaled an enthusiastic “YES!”

Over her six-year varsity career, every moment had been leading up to this.

At last, Manfredo stood alone as the top player in Suffolk County. After falling in the finals of the Section XI Championship last year as a junior, Manfredo delivered a near flawless performance over four matches this year. In the finals Monday afternoon at Smithtown East High School, Manfredo defeated the talented youngster Jackie Bukzin of Eastport-South Manor, 6-3, 6-2.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Manfredo defeated Jackie Bukzin of Eastport-South Manor, 6-3, 6-2, Monday.

“I’m so excited and relieved,” Manfredo said afterward, clutching a bouquet of flowers that served as a fill-in trophy until she receives her hardware at the all-county dinner. “I got my scholarship [to Bradley University], I won the conferences and now counties. Everything just seems to be going for me.”

Manfredo became the third Shoreham girl to win a county title and first since Jennifer LoRusso in 1999.

“She joins an elite group of Shoreham-Wading River players who have won county titles,” said Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen.

Catherine Galvin, who played at Clemson University from 1997-2000, was a two-time county champion for Shoreham.

Early in the season, Manfredo never gave much thought to the county tournament, she said. But over the last few weeks, as she knocked off one goal after another, the impending tournament suddenly came into focus.

“In the last week, I was like ‘Oh, I can actually do this,’ ” she said. “Now I’m going to do this.”

The finals were a rematch of the Division IV tournament finals. Manfredo and Bukzin were playing for the third time this season. Manfredo won a three-set thriller in the regular season and then won 6-1, 6-1 in the division finals.

Manfredo struggled a bit at the outset Monday, falling behind 0-2 in the first set. Once she got her first point, she kept rolling from there, attacking the net to keep Bukzin scrambling from side to side.

“She’s prepared hard for this,” Lutjen said. “She’s worked hard and obviously this was her goal. She really played awesome this tournament.”

After taking the first set, Manfredo quickly jumped ahead 2-0 against Bukzin, who’s only an eighth-grader. Bukzin was one of the only players this year in the county who could really challenge Manfredo.

“When I play Jackie, I have to remind myself, she’s a good player, she’s a tournament player, I need to make good shots,” Manfredo said.

With four wins in the county tournament, Manfredo improved her record to 23-0 this season heading into the state championship starting Nov. 3. For her career, Manfredo is 86-19.

In the semifinals Monday, Manfredo defeated Stephanie Chikvashvili of Half Hollow Hills East, 6-0, 6-0. On Saturday in the first two rounds, she beat Kayla Reidy of Connetquot, 6-1, 6-0, and Rini Halder of Whitman, 6-2, 6-1.

“She’s peaking at the right time,” Lutjen said.

joew@timesreview.com

10/15/13 10:30pm
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

10/15/13 8:21pm
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.”