East Hampton girls tennis head coach Kevin McConville and his top singles player, Pierson junior Juliana Barahona, were the first ones on the courts at Shoreham/Wading River High School on Friday, getting in a 90-minute practice session prior to the start of the Section XI, or Suffolk County, Individual Championships. Barahona looked very sharp, impressing her head coach.
“I told her I had never seen her play better. She was amazing,” he said.
But what Barahona was able to do in practice, she couldn’t translate to her match play, losing her first round match, 7-6, 6-2, to Sydney Said of Half Hollow Hills West, leading to an early exit. It was much of the same for the Lady Bonackers’ lone doubles pair in the county tournament, East Hampton senior Kaylee Mendelman and Pierson junior Chiara Bedini. The pair lost their first round match, 6-1, 6-2, to Islip’s Kristin Scheidel and Kate Berger.
Being able to translate their practice games into actual matches has been the issue for many of McConville’s inexperienced players this season, especially Barahona, he said.
“She struggles with that more than anybody that I coach at the school,” he said. “She consistently beats girls in practice but then her level drops when the pressure is on her a little bit. She’s not comfortable with getting uncomfortable. She’s only played in three USTA events so she needs a lot of experience. She’ll benefit greatly playing in more tournaments, and after she lost, she said, ‘I need to play in lots of tournaments this offseason.’
“Overall I’m happy with her development, just not really elated with her recent results,” he added.
McConville said with Mendelman and Bedini finishing third in Division IV, he knew they were going to face a tough team in the first round at counties. Still, he felt if they played up to the level he knows they can they could have gotten into the second round, at the very least. They just had a bad day, he said.
East Hampton will now turn its attention to the Section XI Team Tournament, which began on Monday, when the 12th-seeded Lady Bonackers hosted No. 21 Longwood. The winner of that match was expected to play at No. 5 Bayport/Blue Point this Wednesday, October 23. McConville said he liked where his team was seeded, and that other than top-seed Westhampton Beach, which East Hampton wouldn’t have to play until the semifinals if both teams made it that far, the county is wide open this year.
“If we can beat Longwood, I think we’ll have a great opportunity to beat Bayport in the next round,” he said.