Girls Tennis: Stromski faces tough opponent in SWR’s Manfredo

Sara Stromski
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Sara Stromski of Southold/Greenport lost 6-2, 6-0 at first singles Tuesday against Aimee Manfredo.


On the rare occasion Aimee Manfredo is not on a tennis court, it’s a good bet she’s in the gym working out to get stronger and improve her game. She started playing tennis at age 6 and hasn’t looked back since.

“This is my life,” she said after posting her 12th win of the season Tuesday afternoon for Shoreham-Wading River.

What does she do when not playing tennis?

“Play more tennis,” she says with a laugh.

All that work has paid off for the Shoreham sophomore. Her win against Sara Stromski of Southold/Greenport at first singles brought her record for the last two years to 29-2. Most of her matches this season have been relative yawners; ten of her 12 victories have been 6-0, 6-0.

The Wildcats defeated the Clippers in a sweep 7-0.

Against Stromski, a senior in her second year playing first singles, Manfredo faced one of her tougher opponents of the season. When the teams met for the first time in September, Manfredo had to miss the match due to family obligations. So the two faced each other for the first time Tuesday at Shoreham-Wading River High School in the final week of the regular season.

Manfredo prevailed 6-2, 6-0, but Stromski made her earn each point.

“It was competitive,” Manfredo said. “Better than my other matches. And [Stromski] was really nice so it made playing fun. That’s always a plus.”

Playing at first singles has meant facing one tough opponent after another for Stromski. While the wins haven’t always been there (3-9), she’s held her own in every match.

“She’s done a great job of trying to build up confidence and not get down on herself after a loss,” said Southold coach Allison Krupski. “As long as she plays well and plays her game as well as she knows how to play, then we’re happy either way.”

Shannon Quinn
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Quinn teamed up Jessica Rizzo at first doubles and lost in three sets against Shoreham.

Krupski said Stromski’s performance against Manfredo was as well as she’s seen her play in a few weeks.

“Sara plays up when she meets an opponent like Aimee,” Krupski said. “It’s great for her personal experience with tennis.”

Manfredo came into the match off her first loss of the season. In a non-league match against The Stony Brook School Friday, Manfredo lost in three sets against Tylah Gantt. It’s been her only three-set match all season. Gantt won 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

“In the third set it’s a matter of stamina and hitting your shots,” Manfredo said.

Stony Brook plays in League V, part of Division III, so the two wouldn’t meet again until possibly the county tournament. The Wildcats and Clippers are in League VIII, part of Division IV.

Manfredo’s tough stretch will continue Thursday when she goes up against Erica Bundrick of Mattituck. Bundrick was responsible for the only blemish on Manfredo’s record last year. After losing to Manfredo in the regular season, Bundrick beat her in the quarterfinals of the division tournament, denying Manfredo a spot in the county tournament.

“We’re friends, but we’ve played each other so many times,” Manfredo said. “It’s my turn this year.”

Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen said this string of competitive matches serves as good preparation for Manfredo going into the division tournament, scheduled to start Friday at Shoreham.

“Aimee’s having a great season and I’m glad she had the match she had today because she needs to play players like that who can hit the ball with her,” Lutjen said.

The Wildcats improved to 10-2 in league after the win against the Clippers (4-8). They’ve done it with a balanced lineup that has had success from top to bottom. While Manfredo has dominated, every other singles player for Shoreham has posted winning records.

Junior Jaclyn La Sita won 6-3, 6-1 at second singles against sophomore Alexandra Small to improve to 8-5. Junior Natalia Rodriguez and senior Nanette Stirpe both improved to 10-4.

Rodriguez won 6-3, 6-1 at third singles against senior Liz Anderson. Stirpe defeated sophomore Victoria Piechnik 6-2, 6-2 at fourth singles.

Stromski will be the only singles player for Southold who will compete at this weekend’s individual tournament. Krupski said her first doubles team of Shannon Quinn and Jessica Rizzo may play as well.

The two teamed up for the first time as freshmen last year and have continued to gain experience playing together.

“They’re starting to figure out how they need to communicate with each other, where they need to move, how they need to move,” Krupski said. “They’ve still got a lot to learn, but they’re making leaps and bounds for sure.”

Quinn and Rizzo forced the only three-set match against the Wildcats. They won the first set 7-5 against seniors Ashley Etienne and Nicole Smith before falling 6-2, 6-2.

The Wildcats also had wins at second doubles behind Kiera Latham and Emma Stoll. They won 6-4, 6-2 against Katherine Bertschi and Abby Schamdin. Shorheam’s third doubles team of Brielle Mauder and Courtney Hauf won 6-1, 6-2 over Shannon Smith and Mackenzie Feeley.

Each team has two matches to close out the league season before the division tournament begins.

And when it does, Manfredo will look to become the first Shoreham tennis player to win the division tournament since Kelley LoRusso won it in 2002 as a freshman. LoRusso played her next three years on the boys team before a four-year career at the University of Connecticut.

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