After losing seven players — five to graduation and two who transferred to a boarding school — the writing was on the wall, so to speak, for the East
Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton girls tennis team going into this season: After a few years of success, the Lady Bonackers now have a complete rebuild of the program underway, and head coach Kevin McConville acknowledged that on Monday.
“It’s an obvious rebuild,” he said. “East Hampton usually has kids who play year-round, but with the girls that I’ve got now, all of their experience has come at middle school tennis in one season. Basically, eight weeks is all the tennis they’ve played. So as I explained to them, they’ll be a lot better by the end of the season. Tennis is one of those sports where it takes years, rather than months, to get good at.”
To try and quicken the rebuild, McConville said he brought up 14 players to varsity this season, as opposed to the usual 12, in the hope that the new players get accustomed to the varsity game. What’s also helped is that the team’s first and second doubles pairs from a season ago — Chiara Bedini and Catherine Lefevre; and Kaylee Mendelman and Eva Wojtusiak — have returned, allowing McConville to put his focus on the younger singles players.
After those four doubles players, and top singles player Juliana Barahona, the ability on the rest of the team is pretty equal, McConville said, which allows him to rotate the girls around in the lineup.
“What I’m really focused on is training them,” he said. “They’re doing great. I’m really happy with them, happy with their development. They’re a great group of girls.”
East Hampton got its first victory of the season on Monday afternoon, defeating a team in a similar situation in Southampton, 6-1, to improve to 1-1 in League VII, 1-3 overall. The Lady Bonackers came close to getting their first wins earlier in the season, such as the season opener, a non-league at Sayville on September 3, and at William Floyd on Friday, but both were 4-3 losses. McConville said outside of returning county and Long Island Champion Westhampton Beach, which East Hampton lost to, 6-1, on September 11, and despite how young and inexperienced his team is, it should be competitive with the rest of the league.
East Hampton plays at Eastport-South Manor on Wednesday and then it’ll host its next three matches, including this Friday against Shoreham/Wading River. All matches begin at 4:30 p.m.