When the first singles match between Jan Menke and Cooper Lacetera ended last Thursday in the Ross School’s bubble with the latter triumphing 6-2 in the third set, the Westhampton Beach senior was mobbed by his joyful teammates who had been looking on as the perennial League VII rivals battled for the championship.
It was the first time in five years that Westhampton, which finished the regular season with a 12-0 league record, had won the title.
Ross, the four-time defending champion, which had lost 5-2 at Westhampton on April 8, was playing for a share of the crown last Thursday, but lost again, dropping four of the five matches that were decided in three sets.
“It looked good for us,” said Vinicius Carmo, who assists Juan Diaz in coaching the team, “and then, all of a sudden, it turned around.”
Menke, a junior from Germany, who had been beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Lacetera at Westhampton, lost the first set 7-6, but won the second 6-4 before, as aforesaid, losing 6-2 in the third.
“Jan played well, but he got tired,” Diaz said during a conversation Monday.
Lacetera boasts a punishing forehand, which frequently won him points in the corners. He and Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Kuhnle were to have played for the Division IV singles championship at William Floyd Monday. Ross’s Dan Okin and Harrison Rowen, who went through the season undefeated, were to have played Westhampton’s top team, Brian Schwartz and Zach Ellenhorn, for the division’s doubles title.
In other matches played last Thursday, Ross’s number-two, Niko Osch, a sophomore from Germany, lost 6-1, 6-0 to Westhampton’s Kevin Cino; Ross’s number-three, Jonas Feurring, a ninth grader, defeated Sam Santora 6-0, 6-1; Fuad Neto, a junior from Brazil, lost at four, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Okin and Rowen, both juniors, defeated Schwartz and Ellenhorn 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at first doubles; Ross’s Alex Kang, a sophomore, and his partner, Giddeon Yektai, a ninth grader, lost 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Luke Jurow and Beecher Halsey, and Madison Hummel, a sophomore, and Jack Boyland, a ninth grader, lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to Westhampton’s third team, Riley Smith and Raji Ghayalod.
Looking ahead to next year, Carmo said that Westhampton’s five top players were seniors. By the same token, Menke, Osch, and Neto, he said, were at Ross just for the year. Frequently, he said, Ross students from abroad remained there for two years or one. “It’s the same with our girls team,” he said.
In the division tournament, Menke lost to Kuhnler 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinal round this past weekend after defeating Westhampton’s Cino 6-2, 7-6 in the quarters. As a result of making the semifinals, he, as well as Okin and Rowen, qualified for the county’s individual tournament, which is to be played at William Floyd on Saturday and Monday.
The opening matches of the county team tournament are to be played at the sites of the higher seeds Wednesday and next Thursday at 4 p.m.
Ross was to have finished the regular season at William Floyd Tuesday, a match that it was favored to win. The last time out, on April 4, the Cosmos bageled Floyd 7-0.