East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton girls tennis players Juliana Barahona and Kaylee Mendelman and Chiara Bedini all showed the perseverance and determination that’s needed during a multi-day tournament such as the Suffolk County Division IV Championships, which began on Friday and wrapped up on Monday at Shoreham/Wading River High School.
Barahona in the singles draw, and Mendelman and Bedini in the doubles bracket, could have lain down after punching their tickets to the Section XI, or Suffolk County, Championships, after reaching the quarterfinal round, but all three players fought hard and bounced back after tough losses on Saturday to place in the tournament on Monday.
Barahona placed fifth, exactly where she was seeded, by defeating Mattituck top singles player Kelsey Bundrick, 6-1, 6-3, in the consolation match for fifth and sixth place. Barahona lost a tough quarterfinal match in three sets with Shoreham’s Catherine Erb, 6-4, 3-6, 0-6.
Mendelman and Bedini, seeded second in the tournament, dropped their semifinal match to Helena Jones and Rieve Delisle of Westhampton Beach, whom they defeated during the regular season, but they defeated William Floyd’s Amanda Jones and Hailey O’Connor, 6-3, 6-4, to place third.
By placing in the division tournament, East Hampton head coach Kevin McConville said, all three girls should receive good seeds at the county tournament, which begins this Friday at noon, with the quarterfinals and semifinals being the following day on Saturday and the finals being this Monday, October 21, all back at Shoreham.
“Kaylee and Chiara will have a decent spot at counties. They’ll probably be up against a two seed rather than the top-seeded pairing, which is good,” McConville said.
Eve Marsden, Romy Lauer and Eve Iulo all competed in the singles draw for the Lady Bonackers, and Riley Roesel and Lily Somers and Ashley Peters and Lily Babcock competed in doubles. Roesel and Somers were the only ones to get past the first round, defeating Southold’s Danielle Henry and Hannah DeSimone, 7-6, 6-0, before losing to overall champions Rose Peruso and Jen Curran of Westhampton Beach in the next round.
The Lady Bonackers got off to a bit of a slow start to the regular season, after having graduated a number of players and replacing them with young and inexperienced players at the varsity level. But East Hampton turned things on down the final stretch of the season, winning three of their final four matches to finish in a three-way tie for second place in League VII with both Shoreham/Wading River and William Floyd. East Hampton suffered a close 4-3 loss at Shoreham in the regular-season finale, and had it pulled out the win it would have placed second outright. But McConville said one of his players fell ill on the bus ride to Shoreham, and then one of his players was forced to default a match after the Shoreham head coach noticed she was wearing earrings, even though they were covered with Band-Aids, which is typically allowed.
McConville said with the way his team has improved and with a renewed confidence, it could make some noise in the Section XI Team Tournament, which begins this Tuesday, October 23, at the higher seed’s home location. Along with Mendelman and Bedini, McConville said, his second doubles pair, Catherine LeFevre and Eva Wojtusiak, are talented as well.
“We’re looking forward to the team playoffs. We’re in a much better place now than we were in the beginning of the year, and it’s not just about the girls who played in the playoffs today,” McConville said. “I like our chances. If we get a decent draw, we should be in good shape and we’re not going to be an easy out like some teams may think we will be.”