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Northport’s Sara Dube reached for the return. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Northport Tigers took on perennial powerhouse Huntington Tuesday afternoon in girls’ tennis action at home in hot, windy conditions. With Huntington being the League II champions from last season, the Blue Devils were guessed to give it to Northport, but the Tigers hung on until the final and deciding match, where the Blue Devils escaped with a 4-3 victory to remain undefeated.

Huntington’s Abby Bellestri connects with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Abby Bellestri connects with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Due to the heat index, Tuesday’s match was an abbreviated 10-game pro set, where the first team to win 10 games wins the match, instead of the best two out of three sets of six, according to Northport head coach Peter Quinn.

Huntington singles standout, senior Emily Shutman, disposed of her opponent with ease, winning her match 10-0.

“It was hot, humid and very windy, but I served well and my opponent had difficulty handling that today,” she said. “My net play was really nonexistent — I didn’t have to come to the net, but I had a few drop shots that were pretty effective.”

Shutman added that she had to continually adjust her play to compensate for the wind, and that it was important to stay hydrated to avoid becoming lightheaded.

“I’ll do a lot of stretching and work on my stroke and just try to stay loose to get ready for John Glenn,” Shutman said as she begins to prepare for the next match.

Northport senior Allisa Risebrow won her singles match 10-5 but added that the glaring sun was a factor on the court.

“I had the sun in my eyes, so the conditions were [challenging],” Risebrow said. “It was so hot and windy that I had to read the wind; so depending on what side I was on, the wind was either pushing, or I had to push against it.”

Northport’s Lucy Jiang sends back a forehand shot. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport’s Lucy Jiang sends back a forehand shot. Photo by Bill Landon

Risebrow added that her opponent struggled charging the net, and she returned a lot of short balls to exploit that weakness.

Huntington head coach Jamie Fishlow said his team will be focusing on the fundamentals, and that the Blue Devils will need to improve from top to bottom if they want to remain league champs.

“We need to work on our doubles positioning, work on our footwork and just hitting the ball and to be consistent,” Fishlow said. “Emily [Shutman] has the best all-around game in singles play, but today was close, and Northport gave us a good match.”

Northport junior Gabrielle Schuck, who competed in doubles, said her team’s first match of the season was a struggle and that the conditions made it much more difficult.

“We fought through it, we kept going, but I had to sit down and take water breaks to avoid headaches,” Schuck said. “[Huntington is] the best team. We’ve lost to them many times, but today we were tied 3-3 and it went to the final match.”

Quinn said that Huntington is without question the team to beat in League II but was impressed with his team’s first match of the season.

“We played well, we did some good things, we moved well, but the heat and the wind was a factor,” the coach said. “It was a very good competitive first match of the season.”

With the win, Huntington improves to 3-0, while Northport dropped its season opener.

Huntington will host John Glenn today at 4 p.m., and Northport will travel to Walt Whitman today at 4 p.m., before hosting Hauppauge on Friday at 4 p.m.