By Bill Landon
Middle Country ended the regular season on a high note.
The Mad Dogs girls tennis team invaded Rocky Point Oct. 2 and took home a 6-1 League VI win over the Eagles. Middle Country is ranked No. 3 in the standings with a 6-4 record behind Mount Sinai and undefeated Port Jefferson.
“We were pretty evenly balanced today in singles — they kept the ball in play and they didn’t make the mental mistakes [to] beat themselves,” Middle Country head coach Mike Steinberg said. “Our doubles [had a good outing]. They worked well together.”
What the coach has liked seeing most from his team this season is consistency, and hopes that carries into tournament play.
“We’ll get some doubles in for the tournament,” he said. “Hopefully we can get one or two singles [players into the mix].”
After dropping her first two games, Middle Country’s No. 1 singles player Olivia Zhu, a five-year varsity starter, swept the next 12 to shut the door on her opponent, winning 6-2, 6-0.
“I had a little bit of a slow start in those first two games, but after that it was smooth sailing,” the senior two-time All-County player said. “I thought I did a really good job at pushing her deep — keeping her towards the baseline — to attack to finish off points.”
Rocky Point senior duo Katie Barber and Allison Kasper had their hands full in No. 1 doubles, dropping the match 3-6, 4-6.
“We ended up losing, but it was a really strong match,” Barber said. “We were strong at the net. I’m tall, so it’s hard to get it around me. It’s a powerful shot [if I can hit] down at them and that gets you a lot of points.”
Kasper said she and Barber will now prepare for postseason play where it’s anybody’s match, especially not knowing who your opponent is until game time. Rocky Point ends the season with a 2-8 team record.
“It all depends on the draw — hopefully we get an easier team so that we face them first and from there work our way up,” Kasper said. “I was pleased with my backhand today, but I need to be more aggressive on my net play.”
Middle Country’s Haylie Budd said she was satisfied with her play in No. 1 doubles against the pair, adding it wasn’t the first time the two teams had squared off.
“We were good at volleying at the net and hitting it away from them,” Budd said. “I expected a strong match and they were better than the last time we faced them.”
Rocky Point head coach Jim Buonconsiglio said he’s also been pleased with the progress his team has made.
“The girls have just been a delight to work with,” he said. “All around I’ve seen tremendous growth from the start of the season through today. Record-wise it doesn’t really show that, but as their coach I can see that the growth has been there and all aspects of their game has improved.”