A Tense Time at Tennis Tourney

Vituperation anyone? Parental threats alleged.
Luke Louchheim, East Hampton’s third singles player, a cool-headed eighth grader who was unseeded, upset the division tourney’s fourth seed before losing a three-setter to the fifth. Jack Graves

Jonny De Groot, who plays number-one on East Hampton High’s boys tennis team, was to have played Center Moriches’s Mike Koscinski, the top seed, Monday afternoon, for third place in Division IV’s singles draw, while two East Hampton doubles teams, Alex Weseley and Jamie Fairchild and Matthew McGovern and Miles Clark, were to have fought it out for third place among the division’s doubles teams. The top four in each draw advance to the county individual tournament that is to begin tomorrow.

Luke Louchheim, East Hampton’s number-three, who is an eighth grader and was unseeded, pulled off an upset in the first round, defeating the fourth seed, Nate Hanley of Rocky Point, in a three-setter, and began his quarterfinal match with Westhampton Beach’s number-two, Josh Kaplan, the fifth seed, in promising fashion Saturday morning at William Floyd High School.

But, according to Kevin McConville, East Hampton’s coach, after Louchheim had sailed through the first set at 6-0, hitting well from the baseline, things tightened up in the second set as Kaplan began to play more conservatively, “returning the ball over the middle rather than going for winners and letting Luke make the errors.”

Things became even tighter, as it were, McConville said, when, midway through the second set, following an “out” call by Louchheim at the baseline, a close call, but one with which he agreed, “the kid’s father came over from where the Westhampton parents had been, about 10 yards away, and said if I didn’t correct Luke’s ‘cheating,’ he would beat me up in front of my kids. I was sitting at the time with Jamie, Matthew, and Miles. There were no parents around, just me and my kids.”

In a subsequent report to East Hampton’s athletic director, Joe Vas, McConville said the Westhampton player’s father and a friend of his then sat directly behind him, and, when he asked them to “please leave us alone and let the kids work it out,” refused.

“Meanwhile, Josh and Luke were trying to figure out the score, whether it was 30-15 or 30-30,” McConville said during a conversation concerning the incident at Hampton Racquet, where he is the head pro, Monday morning. “Josh’s father said — correctly as it turned out — that it was 30-30, but he shouldn’t have been involved at all. I told him he couldn’t do that, but he persisted. Again they threatened to beat me up.” 

“I was scared these guys were going to follow through on their threats,” McConville continued in his report to Vas, “so I asked the tournament director [Mike Huey of Mattituck] to have them removed, explaining exactly what had happened. He did nothing. . . . Josh took the lead and then won the set. That’s when they walked away.” 

Kaplan, who, McConville said, “played smart,” went on to win the third set too, with relative ease.

Vas said Monday morning that he planned to pursue McConville’s allegations.

He had seen parents who had behaved similarly ejected from gyms during high school basketball games, McConville said, adding that “it’s the right thing to do in order to remove a physical threat. I was still scared when the men walked past me when I was heading alone to the bus an hour later.”

Back to the other matches, De Groot got by his teammate, Ravi MacGurn, East Hampton’s number-two, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 to reach the semifinals, where he lost in straight sets to the second seed, Danny Tocco, Westhampton’s top singles player. Kaplan and Tocco were to have played in Monday’s singles final.

After winning quarterfinal matches, Bonac’s doubles teams both lost in the semis. McConville said he hadn’t paid much attention initially to Weseley and Fairchild’s match “because I’d thought they’d win it, but they were tight and wound up losing.”

In Tuesday’s matches De Groot lost 6-2, 6-3 to Koscinski and Wesley and Fairchild defeated McGovern and Clark 6-2, 6-2. 

The county individual tournament’s matches are to be played at William Floyd also, tomorrow, Saturday, and Monday.

The county team tournament, whose seedings hadn’t been arrived at as of earlier this week, is to begin with matches at the higher-seeded teams Tuesday.