The most scrutinized second doubles match in the history of League VII turned in favor of the East Hampton boys tennis team on Monday, roughly one week after a controversial forfeit seemed to pave the way for Westhampton Beach to claim the regular-season championship outright.
With their teammates in street clothes watching from the sideline, Pierson junior Alex Weseley and his East Hampton teammate, Hunter Medler, cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Brennan Tomlinson and Santo Benenati to reverse an original 4-3 victory by Westhampton on April 13. That match was marred by controversy with Hurricanes coach John Czartosieski calling out Weseley for a uniform infraction and demanded a forfeit just as East Hampton had taken a 6-5 lead in the match.
But an appeal to Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body of high school athletics, was reviewed and the match was ruled as an “invalid forfeit,” according to East Hampton coach Kevin McConville, because it was allowed to begin with Weseley wearing a sweatshirt, as is common during the cold early days of spring. At the time, McConville and Weseley offered to continue the match with the sweatshirt on, if necessary, or to wait a jersey from one of his teammates.
“I was wearing a polo shirt,” Weseley said about his apparel in the first match. “I’ve played matches before without this jersey on, but I’ve learned my lesson.”
The now 4-3 team victory by East Hampton means both teams stand atop the league standings with identical 7-1 records. The Bonackers were scheduled to face Southold/Greenport Wednesday after press time and will close out the regular season at home against Rocky Point on Friday, April 27, at 4:30 p.m. East Hampton easily defeated both teams earlier this season.
Westhampton was scheduled to host Shoreham Wading River on Wednesday and will close out its regular season at the Ross School on Friday. The Hurricanes are also expected to win both matches, just as they did earlier this year.
Monday’s doubles match was never in doubt for the Bonackers, who came out strong after training over the weekend at Hampton Racquet Club in East Hampton, where McConville works as a teaching professional. Since he took over as head coach this season, McConville has made doubles a priority for the team.
“It’s incredible how far we’ve come,” Weseley said about the team’s overall approach to doubles. “At the beginning of the season we were stationary at the net.”
“We got better,” McConville added. “You saw today, Alex was poaching all over, hitting shots at the short person” at the net.
“There was a lot of pressure, the entire season is on you,” Weseley said about Monday’s match. “We won this match and now we share the league title. We felt like we could win, and we did. I’m really happy.”