It’s been such a long time since the Southold/Greenport high school boys tennis team won a Suffolk County playoff match that no one seems to know when the First Settlers last accomplished the feat.
Not even coach Andrew Sadowski, who has been coaching sports at the school for 25 years, could give an exact date.
“It may have been ’93,” he said. “That’s my last guess. Yes, it’s been a while.”
The 16th-seeded Settlers made some history Monday by defeating No. 17 Miller Place, 5-2, in a first-round match at Southold.
“It’s very awesome to win,” said junior Jacob Kahn, who won his second singles match.
To appreciate Southold’s accomplishment, it must be noted it is a Class C school that competed in League VII. Miller Place (13-1) took the top spot in League VI.
“I guess it just means we have a really skilled team this year and we’ve worked hard to where we are,” said sophomore Cole Brigham, who teamed with Devin Quinones to defeat Matt Molinaro and Landon Agic in first doubles, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
It was another achievement in what has turned into a memorable year. The Settlers (7-6), who tied for the League VIII crown in 2017, moved up a league, which presented greater challenges.
“A lot of these boys, juniors and seniors, have been around now for four years and we’ve been building to get promoted to the upper league,” Sadowski said. “We did and it’s a great culmination of a lot of hard work the boys have put in.”
Added Brigham: “We all bought into it and we all practiced a lot and did our best to get better the entire season. That’s why we are where we are now.”
Needless to say, Sadowski was happy with the overall performance.
“I was very pleased with the competitive nature the boys had,” he said. “Three matches went to three sets. That’s pretty good. They set themselves up this year. The one thing we talked about was being competitive and in a very difficult League VII and earn a spot in the playoffs, which we did. Real nice to be part of the first boys playoff tennis win in a long time.”
The Kahn twins helped the Settlers sweep all four singles matches.
“It’s the first time in a while we had four singles pull out a win,” said Xavier Kahn, who bested Tyler Cohen in first singles, 6-0, 6-2.
Brother Jacob downed Christian Plunkett, 6-0, 6-1. In third singles, Van Karsten outlasted Zach Guasto, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, and in fourth singles, Jared Palumbo defeated J.P. Gannon, 6-2, 6-3.
The Kahn twins have alternated being first and second singles this season, depending on who wins their challenge matches.
Jacob beat his brother the first time before Xavier won the last two challenges. “It makes us very competitive,” Jacob said.
“It’s rough when we lose, when one of us loses to each other,” Xavier said.
It wasn’t always clear sailing for Quinones and Brigham, the Suffolk Division IV double champions, who had to work to upend their opposition.
“It was really tense, but those tense matches are always fun because you have to work your hardest the entire match,” Brigham said.
Quinones admitted that overcoming his frustration was “the hardest thing.”
“Just mishitting the ball, some mistakes I shouldn’t be making,” he said, “but we pulled through.”
In the other doubles matches, Southold’s Mario Contreras and Alex Kandora were beaten by Colin Bennan and Michael DiPersio, 1-6, 7-5, 4-6, and Ethan Vandenburgh and Matt Civiok lost to Miller Place’s Wade Tucker and Tyler Gray, 1-6, 1-6.
“Miller Place is a very good team, a lot of good players,” Sadowski said. “Their doubles teams were phenomenal. I was really surprised on how good all three teams were. But I’m pleased with the way the boys worked and hung in and continued to make this season a bigger success.”
There were no great celebrations after the match, not with a confrontation at top-seeded Half Hollow Hills East looming Tuesday, weather permitting. Rain has been forecast for most of the region.
Still, like the season, the Settlers are embracing the challenge.
“A great learning environment for our boys,” Sadowski said.
“We hope to compete,” Jacob Kahn said.
Brigham said, “It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be fun to play such a good team.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport junior Xavier Kahn contributed to the First Settlers’ sweep of the four singles matches against Miller Place. (Credit: Garret Meade)