Like she’s done many times before, Pierson senior Sandrine Becht battled back to a successful finish.
After dropping her Division IV quarterfinal match to the No. 4-seeded Sarah Dupree out of Ross, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, the East Hampton singles player rallied after dropping another first set to earn her No. 5 seed with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Shoreham-Wading River’s Liza Undrus at the Wildcats’ home courts October 19. The top eight singles players earned a berth in the Suffolk County singles tournament, which begins Friday, October 22, at Smithtown East High School at 9 a.m.
“Over the course of the tournament I’ve been really happy with my level of play, and I think I’ve just raised it,” Becht said. “Although I lost in the quarterfinal round, I brought it to a third set and I was playing against a good opponent and that, I believed, brought out some of my best tennis.”
The senior said she saw Undrus last year, but not in the tournament because she competed as a part of a doubles team with then-senior Julia Barahona. She hadn’t had the chance to play her competitor this season. East Hampton head coach Kevin McConville said Becht was supposed to play doubles again this tournament but her partner had to back out last minute, and Becht agreed to compete in singles. McConville said with Westhampton Beach’s Rose Hayes choosing not to play he liked his senior’s chances.
“These girls get deflated when they get rolled against someone like that,” McConville said of Hayes. “She said she would play singles at the last second and I was glad for that, because we knew Rose wasn’t here, and she had a good tournament.”
He said after she played a poor first set and was frustrated after making unforced errors, Becht got it together and played smart.
“That’s not an easy opponent – that girl gets a lot of balls back over the net,” McConville said of Undrus. “I don’t think Sandrine relaxed until it was 4-1 in the third set, then she started playing her normal tennis. But pressure gets all the kids and they react in different ways. It’s a good experience. Sandrine’s been an absolute delight.”
Becht bested Eastport-South Manor’s Danielle Nicholson 6-0, 6-0 before winning by default to teammate Lyla Wilson, who hurt her ankle after a fall. Wilson, an East Hampton sophomore, had also won her first match, 6-0, 6-0.
As with her consolation final match, Becht said it took some time to realize some of Nicholson’s weaknesses in her game. In the first set against Undrus, the senior said quickly realized the two played very different styles.
“Her style of play is a little different than mine, so it took that first set for me to adjust to it. The wind was also a factor,” she said. “I just tried to stay consistent with my forehand, and was aggressive and attacked at the end.”
Becht added she was excited to receive her second straight All-County nod, and is looking forward to the county tournament.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I know there’s definitely going to be great competition up-Island, but I’m excited to play better players. I’m hoping to go pretty far.”
Teammate Maya Molin, a Pierson freshman, also made All-County despite a 6-4, 2-6, 3-6 loss in the consolation finals to No. 8-seeded Isabella Pagnozzi out of Riverhead. Molin’s big break in the tournament came when she shut down William Floyd’s No. 6-seeded Adrianna Filipelli to catapult her into the county tournament.
“Maya exceeded expectations in every way,” McConville said. “Against the No. 6 seed — that was a total surprise and a welcome surprise. She gained confidence, you can see it, and it will help her in the future for sure.”
Molin, whose father competed in the U.S. Open, only picked up an interest in tennis two years ago, and since joining the team has really been inspired to up her game. She came back after dropping the first set of the tournament to beat Southold’s Jessica Latham, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, and lost to Shoreham-Wading River senior Catherine Erb, who finished second in the tournament, 6-2, 6-2.
“She’s a competitor more than anything else,” McConville said of Molin, “but her tennis technique is coming along.”
East Hampton freshman Stella Peterson and eighth-grader Audrey Monaco also competed in the tournament, but neither made it past the first round. Rachel Monaco, Audrey’s older sister, an East Hampton sophomore, competed in doubles with junior Lily Somers, and Easy Hampton sophomore Samantha Pillco with Pierson freshman Caleigh Barletta — both had byes the first round. The duos lost in the second round to Westhampton Beach opponents, 2-6, 2-6 and 6-7 (2-7), 6-7 (1-7), respectively.