In team tennis, every point counts. Winning three out of four singles matches won’t mean much for a team that gets swept on the three doubles courts. Which is why when Kevin McConville became the new head coach of the East Hampton boys tennis program, which includes players from Pierson and Bridgehampton, he decided to drill the proper technique of doubles play into his players.
“I didn’t really know what the situation was until after we played Westhampton Beach,” McConville said of a match the Bonackers lost, 4-3, on March 19. “I was really disappointed. It really was my fault. But we’re definitely improving.”
Absent from the match against Westhampton Beach, which shared the League VII title with East Hampton last season and on Monday won all three doubles matches, was Pierson eighth-grader Luke Louchheim, who would have played at third singles. As a result, McConville had to shuffle his entire lineup, which was nearing full strength in subsequent losses to Half Hollow Hills West (4-3 on Saturday, March 24) and Half Hollow Hills East (5-2 on Monday, March 26) over the last week.
“Luke Louchheim, to me, is the story of the year so far,” McConville said. “He’s the only one who is undefeated. He gets better every match. He was number one on the East Coast for 10 and under, which is an incredible accomplishment. He got a little burned out and stopped playing tournaments, but he’s an incredible singles player.”
Bridgehampton’s Jonathan DeGroot has been playing first singles, and Ravi MacGurn has been at second singles. Alex Weseley, a Pierson junior, and Jamie Fairchild, a former Pierson student now at Bridgehampton, will be key to the team’s development in doubles, according to McConville, who works as the head pro at Hampton Racquet in East Hampton.
“We split sets in all three doubles matches against Hills East,” McConville said about the match on Monday, which East Hampton lost, 5-2, to the defending Suffolk County champion. “We’ve been practicing hard and preparing, but I’m learning on the job.”
Prior to his move to the East End in 2012, McConville coached boys and girls tennis in Alabama and won three state titles as a coach. He has worked with many of the current East Hampton players since they were in middle school, and believes that despite the team’s slow start, there is great potential for them to succeed as a team this year.
The Bonackers were scheduled to take on Southold/Greenport on Wednesday after press time and will travel to Shoreham/Wading River on Monday, April 2, for a match at 10 a.m. A rematch with Westhampton Beach looms large on April 13.
“We’re going to get them next time,” McConville promised before getting back to work at what else?