Sandrine Becht may be new, but she’s serving up some success in East Hampton.
The 17-year-old Vero Beach-transfer made quick work of her No. 1 William Floyd singles opponent Casey Musselman — 6-3, 6-2 —to move to 2-3 on the season, while her East Hampton/Pierson tennis team fell to 2-2 with its second straight loss Monday, 5-2.
“I am very happy to be back on the court,” the junior said. “I’m also happy to be back in New York. Although it’s not the city, East Hampton seems like a quaint town, and I am excited to be here.”
Becht was raised in New York City before moving to Florida nine years ago. She lived in Vero Beach for eight years before her father was employed as a private chef in Sag Harbor last year.
Becht began playing tennis soon after settling into the Sunshine State.
“My whole family enjoys sports. I owe it to my older siblings for getting me into tennis,” Becht said. “I love that I get to play for the community, meet new people, and it helps build character and mental strength. Tennis isn’t a team sport, so when you are on the court it’s all about your mental state. If you’re down a couple of games, it’s up to you to make the change and think, ‘What do I need to be doing differently in order to come back and win?’”
The Pierson junior said that was her attitude on Monday when she found Musselman coming back to tie the first set 2-2 after quickly jumping ahead 2-0.
“I think the biggest thing is not getting upset when you find yourself missing a couple of points,” Becht said. “There are always nerves going into a match, and sometimes, I found myself missing easy points, but I just reset and try not to think about my previous misses. A new point, a new opportunity.”
East Hampton head coach Kevin McConville said his new junior has been a great addition to the singles lineup, which has seen some major turnover the last few seasons.
“She’s been excellent,” McConville said. “She beat Juliana the first challenge and then Juliana beat her the next four times.”
Pierson senior Juliana Barahona, originally from Columbia, returned to the team March 22 after a 10-day COVID-19 quarantine. The soon-to-be Pierson graduate bested Cassidy Conway, 6-3, 6-2, in her first match of the season.
“She’s big for us,” McConville said. “It’s a big deal when you don’t have your best player.”
Barahona was also thrilled to return to the court.
“I really love tennis. I’m a little sore, because I hadn’t played all week, but I’m really happy,” she said. “It’s my last season, so I want to do the best I can.”
Similar to Becht, Barahona had to shake of some nerves and continue to positively reinforce herself as she got back into the swing of things.
“I kept telling myself, ‘I can do this. I’m the best,’” Barahona said. “I had to be confident.”
Overall, though, the Bonackers had a tough day. First off the court was East Hampton freshman Samantha Pilluo at No. 4 singles (6-4, 6-1) and then Rachel Monaco and Lyla Wilson at No. 3 doubles (6-4, 6-2) before Becht and Barahona claimed their wins. After a close first set, 7-6, East Hampton junior Bella Walsh — a transfer from the Ross School — dropped her second set at No. 3 singles, 6-1, to put East Hampton down, 3-2. That left the meet up to the first and second doubles duos — who had been undefeated all season — which entered tie-breaking third sets as the other matches came to an end.
Pierson senior Chiara Bedini and East Hampton classmate Eva Wojtusiak fell to Amanda Jones and Hailey O’Connor at No. 1 doubles, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, and East Hampton senior Catherine LeFevre and East Hampton junior Lily Somers eventually lost an ultimate tiebreaker to Rachel Zummo and Saskia DaSilva, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
“We had a tough day today. They’re a little bit rusty,” McConville said, adding that the novel coronavirus moving fall sports to the spring and shortening the season doesn’t help. “We usually get more practice time. Instead of having three matches every week, we usually have more time to work on stuff, so that’s been a little bit of a challenge, but we’re going to try to get after it with the girls that are here over the break.”
The coach said he’ll also be adjusting his lineup with the return of Riley Roesel from quarantine. The Pierson junior typically plays doubles.
“It’s a great group, but we’re going to make some changes and hopefully do better,” McConville said.
Regardless, the girls are just excited to have the opportunity to compete this school year.
“It’s been great getting to know these girls and I really enjoy playing with them,” Becht said. “Moving last year’s season and not being able to play for four months, this season will definitely help us in the long run.”