May 10, 2006
Tennis: Southampton Boys Hang Tough
Despite a close 4-3 loss to league rival Hampton Bays last Thursday afternoon, the Southampton boys tennis team still has plenty of reasons to smile. After all, it was the first loss that the Mariners (7-1 in League VII) have suffered this season and even after the defeat, Southampton still stood tied with the Baymen for first place.
"It was a great match on their [Hampton Bays] court and like I figured, it came down to the very last match," said Mariners coach Richard Wingfield. "It was an interesting day because we won all of the doubles matches and they [the Baymen] won all of the singles. No one could have predicted that, especially since we have several really good singles players."
The match's victor wasn't decided until the fourth singles contest of the afternoon when the Baymen's Thifen Mauger defeated Philip Troung in a closely contested court battle 7-5, 6-4. Southampton had handled Hampton Bays easily in the two teams' first meeting of the season back on April 4, winning 7-0. Last Thursday, the results were quite different.
"Hampton Bays did a nice job and it was a fun match," Wingfield said. "As we've come to learn, everybody gets better the second time around the schedule."
Southampton, which won only twice last year, has two matches left in its regular season this week before individual conference play begins later this month, including return matches with both Riverhead and William Floyd.
"We've been a pleasant surprise [to everyone] this season," said Wingfield. "We've worked hard and to see the success that we've had can be contributed to how hard this team works in practice and how much help and support we get from our volunteer coaches. It's just been a great, great season. This team just drills, drills, drills during our practices and you can see the dividends that it has paid [this season] during the matches. It says a lot about how committed this team has been to improving."
The Mariners are a fairly young team that only has three seniors on the small roster of 11 players with John Ludlow, a junior, the top singles player and Jack Keenan, a freshman who has lost only once this season, helping to anchor the talented Southampton squad. The Mariners' number one doubles team of Richie Blitz and Cliff Cirruzzo, two rapidly improving juniors, has been one of the most successful doubles teams in the league this year.
"We didn't expect to go undefeated this season and when you face as good a team as Hampton Bays is, these are things that happen," Wingfield said. "We have two more matches left and we'd like to win them both to at least get a share of a league title. I think that this team is capable of doing that. It's very exciting around here right now."