What started as a stopgap measure turned into a championship.
It was a little before the halfway point of the high school boys tennis season when it was determined that it was time for a change. Southold/Greenport’s first doubles team of Mario Contreras and Devin Quinones, who had reached the Suffolk County Division IV quarterfinals last year, weren’t working well together.
“They just weren’t clicking like they did last year,” coach Andrew Sadowski said. “I needed to make an adjustment.”
One day Sadowski looked at Cole Brigham, who was playing third singles at the time — and winning. The thought occurred to him of pairing Brigham, a sophomore, with Quinones, a junior, at first doubles.
“I never thought about playing doubles before,” Brigham said. “I played singles basically my entire life. It worked.”
At the time, Sadowski was just looking to add stability to his lineup. He got a lot more.
Brigham and Quinones played well enough to receive the No. 1 seed in the Suffolk Division IV Tournament — and then they won the whole thing!
They lived up to their top seeding, defeating the No. 6 seed, Mattituck’s Luke Bokina and Brian Feeney, in the final, 6-4, 6-4, May 7 at William Floyd High School.
Who could have seen that coming?
“I think they were a little bit shocked,” said Sadowski, who doesn’t know of any other Southold doubles team winning a division title before. In his 13 years coaching the team, Southold never had a doubles team reach a division final before.
Quinones said, “It was a really good feeling, not only winning it for me and Cole but winning it for the school.”
Unlike a singles lineup, which is dictated by a rigid ladder system with challenge matches, putting together doubles teams is something of an art, mixing playing styles and personalities together. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
This one worked, although it was an adjustment. Quinones had to adjust to a new partner. Brigham, however, had to adjust to a new type of tennis. Whereas singles is more of a power game, shot placement is what really counts in doubles. Doubles was new to him.
“In the beginning we were just worrying about winning games and seeing where we’d go,” Brigham said. “We didn’t know if it would stick in the beginning, but we just kept on getting better and better.”
Quinones welcomed Brigham as a partner. “I was pretty excited because I know from last year Cole is a very consistent player,” Quinones said. “He doesn’t really make silly mistakes often, so I knew in eliminating the silly mistakes [it] would give me a chance to put it away at the net, so I kind of knew from the start that we’d be good, but I didn’t think it would turn out this good.”
The two say they have complementary approaches, too.
“I think Cole, he’s more of a conservative player at times,” Quinones said. “I think the reason we work well together is because when I’m trying to go for shots too much, I think Cole can kind of be like, ‘Alright, you know, let’s take it easy.’ ”
With Quinones’ good serve and overhead shot and Brigham’s reliable ground strokes and baseline shots, the two brought their season record to 11-1 with their division championship.
Any theory on why this newly formed doubles team has done so well?
“It’s personalities,” Sadowski said. “Knowing your partner, I think, is a big piece. It clicked.”
So, Brigham was asked, what does he like better now, singles or doubles?
He replied, “I think I’m liking doubles.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport’s newly formed first doubles team of Cole Brigham, left, and Devin Quinones won the Suffolk County Division IV championship. (Credit: Bob Liepa)