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Boys’ Tennis

No. 9 Harborfields will travel to No. 8 Westhampton today at 4 p.m. in the second round of playoffs

By Bill Landon

Harborfields’ strength lies in its singles play. The No. 9-seeded boys tennis team swept all four singles spots — all the Tornadoes would need in a best-of-seven series — and went on to blank visiting Brentwood 7-0 in the first round of the Suffolk County playoffs.

Harborfields junior Alex Rzehak, who earned All-State honors the last two years, led his team at first singles. He shut down Brentwood’s Armando Santana 6-0, 6-0.

“He’s our No. 1 player,” Harborfields head coach Bob Davis said of his state tournament alternate. “He plays the best kid on every other team in our division. In fact, the top four finishers in the county are all from our division. This is the second year in a row he’s the alternate. He’s a junior, so he’ll get another bite at the apple.”

Eighth-grader Chris Qi, at fourth singles, also shut out his Brentwood opponent.

“He wound up with a 9-3 record this year in our division — that’s not easy,” the coach said. “We have some kids who are serious about tennis, and [slowly but surely] we’re getting there.”

Other young Harborfields athletes shined during the match. Freshman Michael Singer nipped his challenger 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. Singer made the All-County team this year, and won a round in the county singles tournament.

“We’re hoping for big things from him [moving forward,]” Davis said.

Rounding out singles action was junior Bobby Bellino, who won his match 6-0, 6-1.

“He could wind up being the best of all,” the coach said of his third singles player. “He’s got amazing tools, he just has to work on his consistency.”

The second doubles pair of John Mulé and Luke Verdon competed in the only match that went to three sets. After falling 3-6 in the first, the seniors rallied back 6-3, 6-1 to claim a win in the second-to-last match of the afternoon.

“It was interesting,” Mulé said. “We really didn’t play much at all last week because of the weather. We may have underestimated our opponent at first, they’re pretty good.”

Davis, although thinking his team should have been seeded higher, said he’s under no illusion that his team will have to work hard to prepare for No. 8 Westhampton May 23. The Tornadoes will travel to Westhampton for a 4 p.m. match.

“I think we should’ve gotten a high seed … so now we have to go out and prove it,” he said. “Westhampton is a very good team. It’ll be a very good match, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bellino said he’ll be prepared, but added the doubles pairs will also need to be ready to back up the singles players.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure on our doubles guys — they have to come up big and get those crucial points because if one of us in singles loses, we need a doubles team to pull through,” he said. “I’m just going to go in with a clear head and not think about the pressure that’s riding on the game … just go out and have fun, try to find my opponent’s weakness and use that to my advantage.”

This version was updated May 22 at 9 p.m. to change the date of Harborfields’ next game, which was postponed due to rain.

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By Bill Landon

The rackets of Comsewogue boys tennis team’s doubles players did the talking in a 5-2 takedown of Patchogue-Medford April 13.

Tyler Petruzzi and Srikar Ananthoju eliminated their opponents 6-3, 7-5 for the first of five points in the match at first doubles.

Petruzzi, a team captain who is a consecutive All-League player, said  although he welcomed the warmer weather, the wind presented a challenge.

“We were able to push some balls really deep and that made for some easy volleys at the net.”

— Tyler Petruzzi

“It was definitely easier to push up because of the wind — that was also pushing a lot of balls back our way,” he said. “We were able to push some balls really deep and that made for some easy volleys at the net.”

Ananthoju had competed in singles in the first match of the year against Pat-Med, recently making the switch to doubles.

“I hit my first serves pretty well, but I would have to say we can play better position and we need to focus on strategy,” Ananthoju said.

Head coach Mike Taheny said his first and second double pairings have been the core of the team.

“In order to win, my doubles teams need to sweep, and my doubles do a good job at that,” Taheny said. “My one and two I don’t think have lost yet this season, and my third doubles is a work in progress, but I think they’ll be fine.”

Senior Alan Smith partnered with sophomore Yash Diwan to win in second doubles play 6-4, 6-1.

“They tried to lob it over to us, and it was easy gets they wind would push right back on the ball,” Smith said of his Pat-Med challengers. “I thought we smashed the ball well today.”

“In order to win, my doubles teams need to sweep, and my doubles do a good job at that.”

— Mike Taheny

Diwan thought he played better in the warmer weather, but said he served lighter to stay safe in the wind.

“It was really good weather today,” Diwan said. “My and Alan’s volleys were really on point today.”

Taheny said because of the strength of other singles players in League VI, especially in Pat-Med and Middle Country, and all-around talent at Port Jeff, his team begins each match at a disadvantage.

“We are a bit overmatched at first singles,” he said. “So when we play them, we’re down 1-0 to start — that’s challenging. If we can win out with doubles, we’ll be in a good position. I’m not saying we can’t beat those teams or are going to get blown out, but it’s going to be a competitive match.”

Anthony Romano was the bright spot for the Warriors at second singles, besting his opponent 6-2, 6-3. Taheny said Romano is a solid player for him, predicting his junior will captain the team next year.

Aneish Kompally took a 6-4, 7-3 victory and Ryan Swenning a 6-0, 6-1 win in singles for Comsewogue.

Now at 3-3, the Warriors hit the road to take on Bellport April 18 at 4 p.m.