Boys Tennis Has Off Day vs. Hills East

A 5-2 decision against a nonleague opponent last week
Ravi MacGurn has been a solid number-two for East Hampton, though he lost to his Hills East opponent last week, a player East Hampton’s coach, Kevin McConville, thought was Hills East’s best. Craig Macnaughton

The East Hampton High School boys tennis team, as strong a one as East Hampton has had in recent memory, dropped a 5-2 decision to Half Hollow Hills East, a nonleague opponent, here on March 27, but the Bonackers, a number of whom were admittedly off that day, may get a chance to avenge themselves in the countywide team tournament in May.

Jonny De Groot, a Bridgehampton senior who has all the shots and a big serve, won at first singles, defeating Ishen Varma 6-2, 6-3. Luke Louchheim, East Hampton’s number-three, a Pierson freshman, also won, by scores of 7-5, 6-4. Ravi MacGurn, an East Hampton senior who plays two, lost 6-4, 6-1 to Hills East’s Michael Han, and Max Astilean, an eighth grader, lost at four, 6-4, 6-3.

Regarding De Groot, Kevin McConville, the coach, said, “I’m working with him on hitting his serve wide to both the deuce and ad courts. Because of his high-kicking serve, everyone’s been playing eight to 10 feet behind the baseline. If he can angle his serves wide, the whole court will be open for him.”

The doubles teams were swept by Hills East’s teams, though Bonac’s second and third duos — Jamie Fairchild and Brad Drubych and Matthew McGovern and Miles Clark — kept it close.

During a conversation over the weekend, McConville said he thought that his second and third doubles teams would prevail, “but four of our six kids had bad days,” a critique, he added, that was not gainsaid.

“There was a big buildup to this match” with one of the county’s strongest teams, “and the kids were too excited,” said the coach. “There were a lot of double faults and blown shots.”

On the other hand, McGovern, a sophomore who last year was the recipient of McConville’s “most improved” award, came in for praise. “He’s been our most improved player this season too, by far. He’s grown two or three inches and is the best poacher we have.”

Asked if he’d been telling his other doubles players to watch him, McConville said, “I have.”

Drubych, a Pierson senior, has also been playing well, which has got McConville thinking of pairing McGovern with Drubych, who also is a good poacher, soon. As for first doubles, Alex Weseley, a Pierson senior who missed East Hampton’s first three matches, was, not unexpectedly, “really rusty.” He and Jaedon Glasstein lost 6-2, 6-4 that day.

Drubych and Fairchild lost 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, and, at third doubles, which McConville thought would be the deciding point, McGovern and Miles Clark lost 6-4, 7-5.

Given the interchangeability of his doubles players, he might continue to mix and match in an attempt to arrive at the most compatible combinations, McConville said. “Matt and Brad ought to be good together — I think they would go undefeated at two or three. . . . I might put Alex and James at either two or three. I may throw someone else in with Jaedon. . . .”

His strategy for MacGurn, who covers the court well “and doesn’t make a lot of unforced errors,” was to extend the rallies with Han, who, McConville said, “had the best backhand I’ve seen, and his forehand wasn’t bad either. Our plan was to grind it out. . . . I think he was Hills East’s toughest player.”

Louchheim, said the coach, “went down 1-4 in the first set, but adjusted to a more aggressive game, playing the ball to the other kid’s backhand at every opportunity, and turned it around. I’m so proud of him.”

At four, “Max made a lot of unforced errors against a solid kid.”

Of course there was good news too last week inasmuch as East Hampton, whose League VII record stood at 4-0 as of Monday, bageled Southampton and Mattituck in league matches. The Bonackers lost only one game in singles versus the Mariners last Thursday, and the doubles teams all won in straight sets.

Only De Groot had to go all the way in the match on March 26 with Mattituck, prevailing 10-3 in a deciding super tiebreaker after losing the second set 7-6.

Looking ahead to the postseason, McConville said, “There are five or six teams who can beat each other. Harborfields beat Hills East 4-3, Hills West beat Harborfields, Hills East beat Commack 4-3. . . . Of course you never know just from the scores who might have been absent on a given day or what the individual match scores were. But, countywide, it seems pretty even.”

Commack is to play a mandatory nonleaguer here tomorrow, another big match for the Bonackers, who will be without the services of Fairchild.

Today, East Hampton is to play at Westhampton Beach. East Hampton defeated the Hurricanes 7-0 in their first meeting, though it wasn’t a blowout as some of the matches have been.

McConville said he still thinks Hills East and Commack are the class of Suffolk County, “Hills West too, though they’re not the juggernauts they used to be.”