The past two weeks have been eventful inasmuch as the Ross School’s boys tennis team is concerned. In that span, the Cosmos, as was the case last year, finished as the runner-up to Half Hollow Hills East in the county team final, and its top doubles team, Henry Lee and Felipe Reis, made it to the quarterfinal round of the state tourney after having won county and conference championships.
No other boys doubles team from East Hampton has ever gotten as far as Lee, who’s a senior, and Reis, who’s a sophomore, did. The Ross School can now boast of three county tennis champions in Lee, Reis, and Nadia Smergut, who last fall became the first female from East Hampton to win a county singles title since Sandy Fleischman did so in 1978.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Vinicius Carmo, Ross’s coach, said of Lee and Reis’s run, the highlight of which was their 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 win over Hills East’s Chris Hunter and Eric Bertuglia in the county doubles final.
“That,” said Carmo, “was an amazing match. It was the best match that Henry and Felipe played all season. Afterward they said it was the best match of their lives.”
“Their chemistry is good, they poach, they volley well, they have nice kick serves . . . and they never give up,” continued Carmo, who told his players after they’d lost the first set to stay with their opponents and see if they couldn’t get up for once and thus put pressure on the Hunter-Bertuglia team, which hadn’t been used to coming from behind this season.
“I think they began to feel they could play with them when they went up 3-2 in the second set . . . there were some unbelievable points. Henry and Felipe were down 4-2 in the third and came back to win it 7-5.”
Hunter and Bertuglia, a left-hander whom Carmo rates highly, went on to the semifinal round of the states, losing to the top seeds, Scarsdale’s Ben Fife and Austin Kaplan, 6-3, 6-1.
Lee and Reis, as aforesaid, made it to the quarters, where they were defeated 6-2, 6-1 by the eventual runners-up, Kyle Berman and Jordan Kaufman of Byram Hills. In the first two rounds, the Ross duo defeated Orchard Park’s Dina Sawyer and Sam Korach 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) and Elmira’s Dominic and Jakob Parfianolicz 6-1, 7-6 (8-6), coming back from 2-6 in the tiebreaker.
To get to the final round of the county team tourney Ross swept through matches with Northport, Sayville, and Patchogue-Medford. The Cosmos, who were intent on playing their way back to the final round, shut out Northport 7-0, defeated Sayville 6-1 (with Richard Sipala, its number-one, losing 7-5, 6-1 to Tyler Hoffman), and shut out Patchogue Medford 7-0.
Hills East’s coach, Tom Depelteau, whose team had defeated Ross 5-2 in a nonleaguer played in Ross’s bubble in early April, and Carmo each played strong doubles lineups in the county final. “I was hoping to get all three doubles points and that Richard would win at first singles, which put a lot of pressure on him,” said Carmo. “I figured that would be the only way we could win.” Ross wound up losing the match 6-1.
Lee and Reis, at first doubles, were the only winners that day as they defeated Zain Ali and Sam Goldberg 6-3, 6-4. Carmo said he was surprised that his second team of Ian Combemale, a sophomore with strong ground strokes, and Trippie Tuff, an eighth grader with “good hands,” lost 7-5, 6-4 to Hills East’s Alex Ricciuti and Jeremy Schnapp, who he said normally play in the third spot for the Thunderbirds.
Carmo had hopes as well for Cole Katzter and Spencer Kuzon at third doubles, but they lost 6-4, 6-4 to Jeff Cherkin and Alex Schnapp, whom Depelteau had played at number one, Carmo said, in the nonleaguer here.
Louis Caiola, a junior, Harrison Rowen, an eighth grader, and Jack Brinkley-Cook, a sophomore, lost in straight sets at second, third, and fourth singles.
Though he is losing five players — Lee, Sipala, Kuzon, and Katzter are graduating, and Combemale is moving to Florida — Carmo is confident that his team and Hills East will meet again in the county final next year.
Next year’s lineup should include Reis, Tuff, Jonas Linnman-Feurring, Mikey Petersen, Will Greenberg, and Carl Grant, as well as Caiola, Rowen, and Brinkley-Cook. Reis will be the sole senior; Caiola and Brinkley-Cook will be juniors; Tuff, Rowen, and Greenberg will be freshmen; Grant will be an eighth grader, and Linnman-Feurring and Petersen will be seventh graders.
As for this year’s seniors, Carmo said Lee is to go to Connecticut College, that Sipala is go to Bryant, that Kuzon is to go to Colgate, and that Katzter is to go to the State University at Binghamton. Conn College and Bryant have very good tennis teams, the coach added, and both Lee and Sipala are expected to play from the get-go.
Asked if his charges would be playing tennis this summer, Carmo answered in the affirmative. About half the team, he said, is expected to take part in Ross’s 11-week High Performance program that he, Alejandro Tejerina, and Daniela Muscolino are to oversee, beginning June 20.
At a ceremony this past week, Sipala was named the most valuable player, Lee, the team’s captain for the past three years, received the coach’s award, Tuff was named most improved, and Greenberg was the recipient of the Ironman (dedication) award.