A hallway wall that runs adjacent to the Southold High School gym bears awards for the school’s various sports teams over the years. Down near a corner at the end hang the boys tennis team’s modest contributions: two league championship plaques for 1993 and 2000.
A third one is coming.
Southold/Greenport earned its first league title in 16 years Monday with its 6-1 defeat of Center Moriches at Southold High School. The result leaves the Clippers (8-3, 8-2 Suffolk County League VIII) in a tie for first place with Rocky Point (8-5, 8-2). A three-way deadlock is possible with Southampton (6-2, 6-2) aiming to grab a piece of the crown as well.
Southold’s senior captain, Aidan Walker, wasn’t aware that it was the Clippers’ first league title since 2000 until a reporter told him.
“That’s awesome,” he said. “Whenever you can do something that hasn’t been done in a long time in a school’s history, yeah, it’s definitely special.”
A place in the county team tournament, which automatically goes to the League VIII champion, would also be special. The Clippers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2000, and it remains to be seen how the League VIII representative for the tournament will be determined.
“At the beginning of the season, we knew how far we could go,” said Dylan Van Gorden, a senior who didn’t take up tennis until last summer. “We didn’t want to get our heads too high, but we kept practicing and doing well. It means a lot to us.”
Before the season started, coach Andrew Sadowski spoke to his players about the opportunity they had in front of them. “I said, ‘You guys have an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in quite some time,’ ” he recalled. “I always talk to the boys about opportunity. Give yourself an opportunity for success.”
One may have sensed early on that this Clippers team is different. For warmup jackets, the players wanted to go with a retro style, but couldn’t find one they liked. That is until they stumbled across a website that offered one of a kind jackets of various colors and variations, a different one for each player.
“That is so against my mindset, but they came to me and said, ‘We would like to do this,’ ” Sadowski said. “I said: ‘Oh my goodness. Go ahead. I’m not getting one.’ ”
The individualized warmups proved popular among the players, if not necessarily their coach. “There are some real ugly jackets,” said Sadowski, who opted to go with traditional black for himself.
Speaking of sartorial matters, the Clippers and Center Moriches (0-9, 0-9) wore identical uniform shirts, red with a horizontal white stripe and white piping.
Xavier Kahn brought Southold a 6-0, 6-2 win over Kyle Kochansky at second singles. The Clippers took third singles, too, with Jacob Kahn beating Sean Doyle, 6-0, 6-0. Teammate Devin Quinones won his fourth singles match by default.
The Clippers also swept the three doubles matches. Mario Contreras and Van Gorden teamed up at first doubles for a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Chris Maisone and Jhon Quizphe. At second doubles, Ethan Sisson and Aidan Vandenburgh were 6-0, 6-1 winners over John Perez and Sam Woronik. After Patrick Connolly and Alex Kandora lost the first set to Brian Yu and Enda Zhu, 6-1, they rebounded to take the second set, 6-4, and then a tiebreaker, 7-3.
Michael Koscinski, an impressive eighth-grader with nice shot-making skills, defeated Walker at first singles in 44 minutes, 6-2, 6-3. Koscinski put away 21 winners to Walker’s 12.
Sadowski said Walker’s leadership went a long way this season. “Tennis season ended last year and he went straight to the weight room,” the coach said. “I think Aidan just set the example and set the tone.”
Walker said: “All of us play every point. We never give up on points.”
Correction: Because of inaccurate information supplied to The Suffolk Times, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the result of the third singles match. Southold/Greenport’s Jacob Kahn beat Sean Doyle.
Photo caption: Mario Contreras returns a shot for Southold/Greenport in a first doubles match. (Credit: Garret Meade)