By Gavin Menu
The next generation of summer campers at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center will have a fresh pursuit to enjoy this coming season. Awaiting their arrival at the end of June will be a newly-constructed tennis court, made possible through the fundraising efforts of a boy just a few years their senior.
Jack Louchheim, an eighth-grader at the Pierson Middle-High School, successfully raised more than $40,000 over the last several months and on Friday watched as contractors with ProCorm tennis of Westhampton Beach broke ground on the new court in Bridgehampton. Louchheim, who plays second singles for the East Hampton varsity boys tennis team, will use the court along with other local teens to teach tennis to children attending summer camp this year, and hopefully for years to come.
“We raised $43,000 so we started the court on Friday,” Louchheim said before taking the court on Monday, where he cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Rohin McIntosh of Shoreham Wading River. “I’m still trying to raise the next $7,000 for equipment and any repairs that might be needed along the way.”
Louchheim said the building project will take about a month and will be ready in time for camp this summer. In an interview earlier this year, Louchheim said he set up his non-profit Bridgehampton Youth Tennis Project to give other kids the same opportunity to play tennis he has enjoyed.
“Tennis is a sport that’s helped me in many aspects of life. It’s made me a better person physically and emotionally,” Louchheim said in February when his fundraising campaign had just begun. “My focus, motivation and mental endurance have increased tremendously, and it contributes to my ability to be a very ambitious student. Most importantly, the sport has taught me that with hard work, comes great reward.”
The East Hampton tennis team, meanwhile, has not lost a league match in two years. The Bonackers’ 5-2 win over Shoreham in cold and windy conditions at East Hampton High School on Monday pushed the team to 5-0 atop the League VII standings, building on an undefeated streak that includes the team’s 12-0 mark in League VIII last year.
“We have played all teams except for Ross School and William Floyd,” head coach Katie Helfand said, adding that both those schools have traditionally strong programs. “The conditions this season have been brutal. They can’t hit the shots they want to hit and they get really frustrated. When I played in high school and college, I said I would rather play in 100 degree heat then play in the wind.”
While most East Hampton players cruised in straight sets on Monday, the team’s top singles player, Julian MacGurn, was locked in a battle with Chris Kuhnle, the top ranked player in Suffolk County who finished fourth in all of New York State last year. MacGurn jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first set, but ultimately suffered a 5-7, 3-6 loss in what was surely Kuhnle’s biggest test to date this season.
“When you play someone like Chris, you have nothing to lose,” Helfand said during the match. “You think it’s easy to be number one in the county, but they have all the pressure and this is a mental sport if there ever was one.”
As for Louchheim, Helfand said he is “having a really good season, is a great kid and is a great asset to the team.”
“Plus he’s young,” the coach added, noting that MacGurn will be graduating later this spring. “He is the future of the team.”
The Bonackers were scheduled to host William Floyd on Tuesday, but poor weather may have cancelled the match. The team was also scheduled to play at Eastport/South Manor on Wednesday, and will travel to Mattituck for a 4:30 p.m. match on Monday, April 18 before returning home to face Ross on Tuesday, also at 4:30 p.m. For up-to-date schedule information visit sectionxi.org.