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Girls Tennis: Riverhead-SWR match is hot stuff

The heat is on.

As in the heat of a new high school girls tennis season.

But there was also actual heat on Tuesday. Plenty of it.

Both Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River tried to beat the stifling heat as much as each other Tuesday morning. By the time the non-league match began, a temperature reading of 78 degrees seemed questionable. It felt a lot hotter on Shoreham’s baking courts under the harsh sun. By the time the match was halted at noon because of a county-wide full heat alert, a reading of 84 degrees again seemed hard to believe. Another reading from another source about 20 minutes later read 90 degrees, and it rose to 94 not long after that.

SWR junior Alex Borriello appeared to have the most difficulty with the oppressive conditions. She struggled to continue before her third singles match against Gina Bassemir was stopped and declared a draw as noon arrived, putting a full heat alert into effect. Borriello won the first set, 6-3, and Bassemir took the second, 7-5.

SWR didn’t need that match, though, to secure victory, 4 1/2-2 1/2.

The weather was a challenge for all the players.

Riverhead senior Jordyn Stromski said it was “terrible. I’d rather be freezing.”

SWR senior Brianna Arabio felt it in her first singles match. “I was getting like delirious,” she said. “It was so hot. I kept thinking, ‘How am I going to finish?’ But I just pulled through.”

Indeed, Arabio persevered for a 6-4, 6-2 victory over senior Ryan Waski. It was a difficult 1 hour and 24 minutes for both players.

“It’s really tough,” Waski said. “I think it affects your mental game because you’re just so focused on how hot you are and you start screwing up.”

Arabio (2-1), a third singles player last year, has played her way to the top of the lineup.

“Over the summer … she must have really worked on her game because her serve is a lot stronger,” SWR coach Debbie Lutjen said. “She has gotten quicker and she’s hitting the ball harder than she did last year.”

Arabio jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Waski started heating up and finding her way, taking four of the next five games. Waski also grabbed a 2-1 edge in the second set.

“I was getting a little worried, but I tried not to let that get to me,” said Arabio, who put away 29 winners. “I tried to stay strong.”

And she did, outscoring Waski, 20-8, to win the last five games.

Both players, relying on placement shots and returns, appeared to be playing with heavy legs in the second set.

“It makes you get tired a lot faster,” Arabio said. “It gets harder to get to the ball quicker.”

SWR (2-1, 2-0 Suffolk County Conference IV) saw second singles player Catherine Erb and its third doubles team of Madison Dimpflmaier and Rosie Minneci raise their records to 3-0. Erb defeated Meghan Carver, 7-5, 6-2. Dimpflmaier and Minneci handled Lilly Kneidl and Sofia Salgado, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

SWR’s other win came from the first doubles pairing of Natalie Acker and Sydney Spuhler, 7-5, 6-3 victors over Jillian Shackel and Stromski.

Riverhead’s Joslyn Lessard beat Stephanie Searing, 6-1, 6-2, in fourth singles. The Blue Waves also prevailed in second doubles, with Delu Rizzo and Leah Zenk downing Kaitlyn Arabio and Mika Misawa, 6-2, 6-2.

What was Riverhead coach Rose D’Orsogna’s take on the heat?

“I think it’s been rough all week, to be honest with you,” she said after her team’s season opener. “I speak to the parents about making sure that [the players] drink water because high school girls tend to not drink water and they don’t eat as much. I keep telling them, ‘If you’re sweating, you’re already starting to dehydrate.’ ”

After the postgame handshakes, players were in no mood to linger. It was time to cool off.

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Photo caption: Rosie Minneci (pictured) and her third doubles partner Madison Dimpflmaier and raised their record to 3-0 for Shoreham-Wading River with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 defeat of Riverhead’s Lilly Kneidl and Sofia Salgado.