HAMPTON BAYS — The Southold/Greenport high school boys tennis team’s bus made an unexpected stop on Monday.
“All we hear is this weird cranking sound and the bus just like stopped moving and we were in the left lane, so we just kind of glided over to the right lane and to the shoulder, and we were there for a little while,” said first singles player Josh Robinson.
The Clippers, who were headed to Red Creek Park to play the Hampton Bays Baymen, feared they were in a race against rain that had been forecast. The rain never arrived, but the Clippers did, albeit a little later than expected in a replacement bus.
Aside from bringing some smiles to faces at the mention of it, the incident didn’t seem to have any affect on the Clippers, who were 6-1 winners as Robinson raised his record to 4-1 on the season with a two-set victory.
With the win, Southold/Greenport brought its overall and Suffolk County League VIII records to 2-3. Hampton Bays lost for the third time in as many league matches.
“Everyone just kept their cool and played like usual,” said Southold/Greenport first doubles player Ernie Kozlowski.
That would include Robinson, the only returning player from last year’s team who has since made a big move from third singles to first singles. Robinson used his blistering serve to score 18 aces as he downed fellow junior Rob Mos, 6-3, 6-3. At the same time, Robinson would have liked to have seen a lower number of double faults than the 11 he made.
Still, it has been an impressive start to the season for Robinson, a smart player who can make some smart shots.
“It’s kind of intimidating, to be honest, knowing you’re facing the best person who plays singles from each team, but I just try to go in there and play my game,” he said. “I thought I played fairly well today. I definitely can play better, definitely a lot of double faults that I shouldn’t have had.”
Southold/Greenport Coach Andrew Sadowski said Robinson has embraced the opportunity to become the team’s top singles player by working hard in the off-season.
Serving is a big part of Robinson’s game, and he struggled at times Monday, putting 39 percent of his first serves in play and 65 percent of his second serves.
“When it’s on, it’s on,” Sadowski said of Robinson’s serve. “I think the other thing he has to begin to recognize is when it’s off a little bit, he just has to adjust his serve.”
Through his first five matches this season, Robinson has split matches against Zac Mylinski of Rocky Point, beating Mylinski by 6-2, 6-3, and then losing to him, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3. Robinson has also defeated Geoff Wells of Riverhead, 6-4, 6-4, and Casey Ciamaricone of Mattituck, 6-4, 6-4.
It has been a real learning experience for Robinson, who says he needs to remember to keep his feet moving on the court. “I have room for improvement, there’s always room, but I’m pretty happy,” he said.
Two other Southold/Greenport singles players, Devon Standish and Dylan Stromski, also pulled off wins in two sets on Monday. Standish downed Tom Berglin, 6-1, 6-1, at second singles. Stromski recorded a similar score against his fourth-singles opponent, Andrew Maurizio, 6-0, 6-1.
The Clippers swept the three doubles matches through Kozlowski and Pat Sinclair in first doubles, Brian Hallock and Gary Prieto in second doubles, and Chris Kirincic and Will Richter in third doubles. Kozlowski and Sinclair picked up their second win of the season with a 7-5, 6-3 result against Caleb Reed and Wayne Stanton. Hallock and Prieto were 6-0, 6-2 winners over Ross Hamilton and Alex Mineo. The final match of the day saw Kirincic and Richter top Ryan McConnell and Donny White, 6-0, 6-2.
The only team point for Hampton Bays was supplied by Jack Hilton at third singles. He got the better of David O’Day, 6-4, 6-2.
For a rebuilding team that entered the season with plenty of question marks, Southold/Greenport hasn’t done badly.
“We only had one returning varsity player, so we didn’t really know what to expect, but everyone’s progress has been so good,” said Sinclair.
It’s not by accident, either. Sadowski said players have been putting in extra time, staying after practice to work on their games.
Four freshmen have made a major leap, going straight from the junior high school team and right into the varsity lineup.
“That’s a huge jump,” Sadowski said. “It’s another world, and they’re handling it quite well. They want to improve, they want to get better.”
Hampton Bays Coach Rodney Way had some nice words to say about the Clippers. “They look good and they all look like they’re working hard because you can see it in their footwork,” he said.
Kozlowski said: “I’m surprised at how well we’re doing and all the extra effort that everyone’s putting in. We never give up.”