10/07/13 7:00pm
10/07/2013 7:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo won 6-0, 6-0 Monday at first singles against Southampton’s Noa Dubin.

WILDCATS 4, MARINERS 3

Steady gusts of wind blew across the courts at Shoreham-Wading River Monday afternoon as a nearing storm drew closer. On any other day, the wind might have discouraged Aimee Manfredo, rattling her game ever so slightly.

But as Shoreham’s first singles player squared off against Southampton’s Noa Dubin — one of the top players in the division — she took the unfortunate weather all in stride.

“Usually the wind makes me really annoyed,” Manfredo said. “It’s just an annoying thing.”

But Manfredo had reason to be calm. After all, she had just verbally committed to play tennis next year at Bradley University in Illinois. At Bradley she’ll compete for a Division I program that plays in the competitive Missouri Valley Conference against schools like Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Northern Iowa. She can officially sign a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 13.

Even as the gusts whipped all around her, Manfredo cruised past Dubin, 6-0, 6-0 to lead the Wildcats to a 4-3 victory. Shoreham improved to 6-4 in League VIII and 7-7 overall.

For Manfredo, she kept her perfect record intact at 12-0 playing first singles.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Joelle Benigno won at second singles Monday, 6-0, 6-2.

“It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Manfredo said of finalizing her college plans.

As Manfredo weighed her college options, she settled on choosing between Bradley, Siena and Bryant. She had briefly thought about the Air Force Academy, but decided she wanted more of the college experience over the regimented military structure.

Bradley offered her a full scholarship and provided the most competitive tennis opportunity.

“I wanted to go to college to play tennis and know I’m going to get better,” she said. “I wasn’t going to be [No.1] one at Bradley so I wanted to push myself.”

A year-round tennis player, Manfredo practices at her club five days a week, even during the school season. Now that she has her college choice behind her, she can shift her focus to the upcoming division and county tournaments.

Manfredo won the Division IV tournament last year and finished second in the county to earn her first trip to states.

She said she doesn’t think much about defending her division title or winning a county title. She focuses on trying to get better.

“I want to be the best I can before I go to college,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

While few players in the league can give Manfredo a real run for her money, she did get taken to the limit earlier in the season in a non-league match against Eastport-South Manor. In a rematch of last year’s division final, Manfredo needed three grueling sets to defeat Eastport’s rising star, Jackie Bukzin. Manfredo needed a tie-breaker in the third set to prevail.

“That was an awesome match,” said Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen, who added that it was in the top four matches she’s ever seen as a high school coach.

Manfredo offered a less glowing review.

“I pretty much beat myself out on the court, which made it twice as hard to play her,” she said. “I’m already going bonkers and then it’s tougher to play a match. But I was able to pull it out in the end.”

Manfredo and Bukzin, an eighth-grader, could very well meet again in the division finals and possibly the county tournament.

Manfredo will likely enter the Division IV Tournament Saturday as the No. 1 seed and Bukzin will likely be the No. 2. The tournament at William Floyd High School features rounds one and two on Saturday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are Monday and the championship and consolation finals are Tuesday.

The Wildcats also won second and third singles Monday against Southampton. The young duo of sisters Joelle and Daniella Benigno both picked up straight set wins. Joelle, a freshman, won 6-0, 6-2 at second singles. Daniella, an eighth-grader, won 6-0, 6-0 at third singles.

Manfredo said both girls have started playing at the same club where she practices.

“They’re coming along really good,” she said. “I love them both. They’re still pretty young, so I’m hoping they can take over when I’m gone.”

Shoreham also won at second doubles with the duo of Heather Sager and Amanda DeTiberis picking up a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

The Wildcats close out the regular season with matches against Southold/Greenport and Wednesday and Riverhead Thursday.

joew@timesreview.com

09/13/13 7:40pm
09/13/2013 7:40 PM

MARINERS 4, BLUE WAVES 3

So, what is a high school girls tennis coach to do when he’s searching for just the right first doubles team?

Answer: Pair together two players with singles backgrounds. What else?

Knowing full well the value of a first doubles team and what it can do for a team’s lineup, Riverhead coach Jerry Duvall spent the first couple of weeks of the new season mixing and matching, trying to find the right partner for his team captain, Lydia Keiffert.

In the first three matches of the season, Keiffert played with three different partners at first doubles. The senior teamed up with Jessica Purick, then with Cassidy Brown and then on Friday with Courtney Troyan. By the way, Riverhead won all three of those first doubles matches.

As it turns out, Troyan may be the one that works best. The sophomore, a varsity rookie, played first singles for the junior varsity team last year and third and fourth singles in the first two matches of this season. She worked well with Keiffert on Friday when the two combined for a 7-5, 6-1 win over Southampton freshmen Julia Kepczynska and Marcelina Kropiwnicka.

Afterward, referring to his search for the best first doubles combination, Duvall said, “I think I may have found it.”

Southampton’s only doubles win of the day proved decisive, though, giving the Mariners a 4-3 victory at Riverhead High School. Southampton improved its record to 2-2, 2-1 in Suffolk County League VII. Riverhead is 1-2, 1-2.

With the team score even at 3-3, Southampton’s second doubles team of Maria Neknez and Megan Goleski prevailed, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, over Purick and Abigail Wehunt. Purick and Wehunt were on the precipice of going down earlier, but staged an impressive comeback from a 5-1 deficit in the second set.

The pairing of Keiffert and Troyan, who never played together before, may have been the best thing to come out of the match for Riverhead. The two players share similar attributes. Both are athletic, move well on the court and have an affinity for doubles.

“They both have net skills,” Duvall said. “They can move and cover the court. That makes it a tough number one team.”

Keiffert, Riverhead’s only four-year varsity player, has played singles and doubles fairly equally over the course of her time with the Blue Waves. “Last year I was second singles, so it was almost expected that I would play first singles this year,” she said. “For my last year I wanted to enjoy the sport, and I knew I could get most enjoyment out of doubles.”

Troyan said that she, like Keiffert, feels more comfortable playing doubles.

Both players spoke about the benefit of having a teammate on the court next to them during a match.

“When you’re getting your water, switching sides, there’s always someone there to talk to you,” Keiffert said. “You’re down, and there’s always someone there to bring you up, and you don’t realize how much that truly improves your game when you have someone constantly there, cheering you on.”

With only one practice as doubles partners the day before, the two Riverheaders meshed together quite well, and quickly.

“We’ve never played doubles together, and I think we did really well, and we’re going to be playing a lot together in the future,” said Troyan.

A 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-3 win by Brown over Keynu Banks at third singles tied the teams at 3-3. It was only Riverhead’s second singles win this season.

Riverhead’s other point came from the third doubles pairing of Danielle Alaimo and Kate Prijakina. They bounced back after dropping the first set, 6-3, to Pauline Dela Cruz and Johanna Moore, by taking the last two sets, 6-3, 6-2.

Southampton was strong in singles, though. The Mariners have junior Noa Dubin, one of the top players in the league. She cruised in her first singles match against junior Sam Carter, 6-0, 6-0.

The string on Carter’s racket popped while she returned the first serve of the match, and she had to use a backup racket she had not played with in a year. (It was Friday the 13th). The racket change clearly threw her game off. She didn’t score her first point until the second game of the second set. Dubin used 17 service aces and outpointed Carter, 48-9. The first set was completed in 14 minutes and the match was over in 31 minutes.

Carter said she had never broken a racket during a match before. “First time,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Duvall said Carter, who played third doubles last year, has come a long way with her game. “She’s three levels above what she was last year,” he said.

The other singles contests brought similar results in Southampton’s favor: Cecilia Schuerer beat Katharine Chmielewski, 6-1, 6-0, and Jade Kalbacher downed Amy Methven, 6-0, 6-1.

It has been an exciting start to the season for Riverhead. The Blue Waves’ first three matches have been 4-3 results, including a win over Hampton Bays and a loss to Mattituck.

“It’s a pleasure to coach this team,” Duvall said. “They’re unselfish players. They’re there rooting for each other, so it’s just fun to come to practice every day.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

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.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

10/23/12 7:44pm
10/23/2012 7:44 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy senior Cassidy Lessard competes at the division championship last week. The Monarchs won Tuesday against Ward Melville in the team playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals.

MONARCHS 4, PATRIOTS 3

As the match unfolded Tuesday between eighth-seeded McGann-Mercy and No. 9 Ward Melville, it became clear only one path to victory existed for the Monarchs: Sweep the three doubles matches and find a way to win one singles match.

Sounds simple enough.

Only the Monarchs were without their No. 2 singles player, senior Marianne Naleski, who was out sick. The remaining singles players had to bump up one spot.

And then there was still the problem at first doubles, where the Monarchs were going up against an all-county duo from Ward Melville.

“I knew it was going to be a close match,” said Mercy coach Mike Clauberg. “I knew it was going to be tough.”

When Mercy’s first doubles duo of sophomores Delaney Macchirole and Micaela Zebroski pulled out a victory, it came down to fourth singles. And junior Jackie Zaweski delivered a clutch victory to seal a 4-3 victory for Mercy, sending the Monarchs into the quarterfinals Wednesday against No. 1 Half Hollow Hills East.

It’s the third straight year Mercy has advanced into the quarterfinals.

“These girls really came up big today,” Clauberg said.

Zaweski has rotated between doubles and singles this season, so moving into the fourth singles spot wasn’t something new. She won the first set against Caitlin Falvey 6-1, but things weren’t so smooth in the second set. She fell behind 5-4 and was on the brink of going to a decisive third set. She fought back to tie the match at 6 and send it to a tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker she won 7-2, giving her a 7-6 victory to clinch the victory for Mercy.

“She played a great tiebreaker,” Clauberg said. “This girl was good, but Jackie played everything down. When the girl came to the net she lobbed it over her head. She really had a great game.”

At first doubles Macchirole and Zebroski won 6-1, 6-4 for the all-important victory.

The second and third doubles teams took care of business with two-set wins.

Junior Shannon Merker and freshman Jamie Lessard won 6-0, 6-3 at second doubles. Freshmen Kathleen Brownfiel and Margaret Naleski won 6-0, 6-0 at third doubles.

Mercy’s first singles player, senior Cassidy Lessard, had to go up against Sabrina Ferretti, who was third in the Division III singles tournament.

“It was a real close match,” Clauberg said. “Cassidy was winning throughout the first set. She was up 5-4 and couldn’t put it down.”

Ferretti came back to won the first set 7-5. In the second set she lost 6-4.

The loss at first singles added the pressure on the doubles teams, which had no room for error.

Having the match on their home courts proved to be beneficial for the Monarchs.

“Being at home is definitely an advantage,” Clauberg said.

The Monarchs will have their hands full Wednesday against the top team in the county in Hills East. The Thunderbirds have one of the top players in the county in Vanessa Scott and a deep lineup after her with skilled players at every position.

joew@timesreview.com

10/22/12 7:08pm
10/22/2012 7:08 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Aimee Manfredo won her semifinal match Monday before falling in the finals of the Section XI tournament.

One by one the courts at Smithtown East High School emptied out. The doubles championship and consolation matches. The singles consolation match. Even a practice by the Smithtown tennis team started and finished.

All that remained were two players on the northwest court slugging it out for the Section XI singles title Monday afternoon.

Fittingly, the match between the top two players in Suffolk County went an exhausting three sets. Shoreham-Wading River junior Aimee Manfredo already had punched her ticket to the state tournament and had her eyes set on a county title when she rolled to a 6-1 victory in the first set against Half Hollow Hills West senior Zenat Rashidzada.

But after taking 3-2 lead in the second set, Rashidzada never looked back to come from behind and defeat a tiring Manfredo, 6-3, 6-2 and claim her first singles title. Rashidzada was a finalist in the county tournament last year.

Manfredo played brilliantly in the first set, using her speed to send Rashidzada scrambling across the court. She placed her serve where she needed and rarely made unforced errors.

By the second and third sets, Manfredo said she was having trouble getting to balls she had been in the first set.

“And I felt like I wasn’t making my shots like I was in the first set,” she said.

It was the first loss for Manfredo this season after 17 straight victories landed her a spot in the county finals. It was also the first match Manfredo played this season that extended to three sets.

“Every match is a learning experience,” said Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen. “She was on fire that first set. So you have to learn, how do I maintain that focus and stay in that zone that she was in.”

Manfredo became the first Shoreham tennis player to earn a trip to the state tournament since Jennifer LoRusso in 2000 (LoRusso is also the last Shoreham county champion after winning as a junior in 1999). She did so by defeating Eastport-South Manor seventh-grader Jackie Bukzin in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-2. It was a rematch of the Division IV final from last week, which Manfredo also won in two sets.

Manfredo said the wind was much less of a factor in the semifinals compared to when she faced Bukzin in the division finals.

“The first set was tight like I thought it was going to be,” she said. “But then I kind of pulled ahead in the second set and I felt really good.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Aimee Manfredo and Eastport-South Manor seventh-grader Jackie Bukzin shake hands after the semifinal match Monday.

While the first two rounds were supposed to be completed Saturday, Manfredo was forced to play the second set of her quarterfinal match Monday as well. Her match against Sara Dionisio of Longwood couldn’t be completed Saturday due to darkness, so the two resumed the action Monday before the semifinals.

In the end, Manfredo played six sets of tennis, all of which were competitive.

Manfredo did her best to prepare for the long day by eating PowerBars and drinking plenty of water.

Manfredo and Rashidzada got a break after the second set. Manfredo said her focus was on staying positive and making her shots. ”Not try to make it too easy for her to win, even though I was really tired,” she said.

Manfredo started the third set with the serve, which had been to her advantage most of the match. The two went back-and-forth in what was one of the hardest earned points of the match. Rashidzada finally got the point to take the pivotal early lead in the decisive set.

Manfredo bounced back to win the next point and tie the match. But Rashidzada responded with two quick points to gain the momentum back.

“Aimee has the game,” Lutjen said. “She has the strokes. She’s a great player. She just has to learn to stay positive and stay focused.”

It’s been a steady progression each season for Manfredo, who began her varsity career as a seventh grader. As a freshman she lost in the quarterfinals of the division tournament. Last season she won her first division title before losing in the quarterfinals of the county tournament.

Now, she’s headed to states.

“Aimee met her goals,” Lutjen said. “She wanted to go to the state tournament and she did accomplish that.”

Manfredo’s loss in the quarterfinals last year was also against Rashidzada. In that match Rashidzada won 6-3, 7-5.

Manfredo will have a bit of a break before the state tournament. The team playoffs begin Tuesday and runs through Oct. 30, which is the Long Island championship.

The individual state tournament begins Nov. 4. at the Tri-City Tennis Center in Latham.

“I want to have fun and I also want to win a match,” Manfredo said. “I’ve never been to states before so I don’t really know what it’s like.”

She’ll find out soon enough.

joew@timesreview.com

10/22/12 12:00pm

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Division IV singles champion Aimee Manfredo of Shoreham-Wading River is in the Final Four of the county singles tournament.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Aimee Manfredo (17-0) will face top-seeded Zenat Rashidzada of Half Hollow Hills West this afternoon for the Section XI singles title at Smithtown East High School.

Manfredo, the No. 3 seed, won two matches already today. She had to finish her quarterfinal match against Longwood senior Sara Dionisio and won 6-2, 6-3. The match began Saturday but could not be completed due to darkness.

Manfredo then defeated Eastport-South Manor seventh-grader Jackie Bukzin in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-2, to advance to the finals.  The semifinals was a rematch of the Division IV finals, which Manfredo won 6-4, 6-3, after trailing 4-1 in the first set.

Rashidzada defeated Laura Torsiello of Bayport-Blue Point in the other semifinal.

Manfredo’s semifinal victory guarantees her a spot in the state tournament. The top three in the county move on to states. Bukzin and Torsiello will play a consolation match to determine the third-place finisher.

Rashidzada, the Division I champion, ended Manfredo’s season last year in the quarterfinals.

10/19/12 11:03am
10/19/2012 11:03 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy singles player Cassidy Lessard earned all-county honors after finishing fourth at the Division IV tournament.

The McGann-Mercy girls tennis team will have to wait until Tuesday for its second-round playoff match as rain washed away today’s schedule.

The eighth-seeded Monarchs will host No. 9 Ward Melville at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Ward Melville advanced to the Round of 16 by defeating No. 24 Brentwood 7-0 Thursday. The top eight seeds in the tournament had a bye.

The winner of Tuesday’s match advances to play either No. 1 Half Hollow Hills East or No. 16 Sayville on Wednesday. The Monarchs have made it into the quarterfinals the last two years. Last season ended with a loss to the No. 2 seed, Half Hollow Hills West.

Before the team tournament resumes, the Section XI individual tournament will take place this weekend. Two locals will be competing, including Mercy senior Cassidy Lessard in singles. Shoreham-Wading River junior Aimee Manfredo, the Division IV singles champion, is also competing.

The individual tournament begins Saturday at Smithtown East High School with the first two rounds. The semifinals and finals will be played Monday.

10/17/12 8:00pm
10/17/2012 8:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy singles player Cassidy Lessard earned all-county honors after finishing fourth at the Division IV tournament.

For as well as the McGann-Mercy girls tennis team has performed in recent years, sending singles players to the county tournament has been a relatively rare accomplishment over the history of the program.

Senior Cassidy Lessard joined the exclusive group Monday when she advanced into the semifinals of the singles tournament, where she lost a spirited match against the top seed and eventual champion, Aimee Manfredo of Shoreham-Wading River. The loss dropped Lessard into the consolation final Tuesday at William Floyd High School, where she faced Noa Dubin of Southampton to determine third and fourth place. The top four singles player advance to the county tournament, which begins this weekend.

On a windy afternoon where neither player was at her best, Dubin won 6-2, 6-1 as Lessard finished the tournament in fourth place for an all-county finish.

“Even though today she goes down on a loss, it’s still a privilege to be in the final 16 in the county,” said Mercy coach Mike Clauberg. “If she wins one match, she’ll be in the final eight.”

Clauberg said as far as he can tell, Lessard is only the third singles player from Mercy to achieve all-county status.

“She’s part of an elite group from Mercy High School,” he said.

Lessard advances to the county tournament for the first time in her career. She entered the division tournament as the No. 5 seed. She defeated Cassie Rivera of Eastport-South Manor, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round and Emily Vigliotta of Floyd, 6-3, 6-1, in the second round.

In the quarterfinals Monday she beat Sophie Volz of Ross, 7-5, 6-3. Volz had knocked off the No. 4 seed in the tournament in the second round.

Lessard’s quarterfinal win assured her a spot in the top four.

Against Dubin Tuesday Lessard had more unforced errors than usual, Clauberg said.

“Noa really took Cassidy out of her game,” he said.

Lessard had a strong showing against Manfredo a day earlier, losing 6-3, 6-3 against the two-time champion.

“She stuck to the game plan and did exactly what she was supposed to do against Aimee,” Clauberg said. “I really thought she played a great match against Aimee.”

The Monarchs’ season continues Friday when they begin the team playoffs. Mercy was seeded No. 8 in the Section XI tournament and will host either No. 9 Ward Melville or No. 24 Brentwood.

The top eight seeds in the tournament received a first-round bye. If Mercy can win its first playoff match, the Monarchs would likely be headed to face the top seed, Half Hollow Hills East.

joew@timesreview.com