Bridgehampton senior Jonny DeGroot knows he can dominate, and after a three-set Suffolk County quarterfinals loss to No. 2 Connetquot’s Alan Sabovic, he’s hungry for more.
DeGroot, the No. 10 seed, began the individual tournament Friday with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Mt. Sinai’s Juan Perez, and took out No. 7 Patchogue-Medford’s Evan Rupolo 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Saturday morning, he fell to Sabovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“Luckily, I had a chance to see the No. 2 seed play, and thought my game matched up fairly well against him,” DeGroot said. “It was definitely a disappointing match, but my opponent played well.”
DeGroot said because Sabovic hits a flatter ball than most, it makes passing shots more difficult, which was actually an advantage for him.
“My strategy going into the match was to force him to make passing shots off low balls to his backhand,” the senior said. “He ended up being much more precise on his groundstrokes than we had anticipated, and, though I had a lot of missed opportunities with volleys, he still did a good job making tough passing shots.”
The Bridgehampton senior’s approach shots were on, but his volleys often soared out of bounds, and Sabovic had the uncanny ability of placing the ball just inside the lines when he needed to. In the decisive third, DeGroot showed the supremacy of his serve most players fear, winning a game that brought him 5-3 on three straight aces.
“My serve was very streaky,” DeGroot said. “Overall it was too inconsistent.”
What head coach Kevin McConville liked most was how his No. 1 singles player has developed and trusted in his game plan as the season progressed, saying just his execution needs to be fine-tuned. DeGroot has grown from occasionally serving and volleying and playing baseline tennis when returning, to serving and volleying on almost every point, and chip charging the net on both the first and second serve on almost all his return points.
“He applies pressure throughout and forces his opponent to come up with passing shots under pressure throughout the entire match regardless of the outcome,” McConville said. “That style requires courage and persistence, and Jonny exhibits both.”
His teammates, No. 11 doubles duo Jaedon Glasstein and Alex Weseley, were knocked out in the first round by No. 6 Miller Place’s Matt Molinaro and Landon Agic, 7-5, 6-3. The pair play a high-risk set of doubles, hitting big forehands and getting two up to the net finishing with high volleys and overheads. They hit big second serves and attack weak second serves.
“When they’re hot they beat our best singles players in dubs sets,” McConville said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t play their best in the division final and the county tournament against good competition.”
Glasstein said the inconsistencies lie in confidence, which led to more unforced errors than they could recover from. This was despite the East Hampton senior knowing he had an advantage with his powerful serve, and that his returns would be solid as most opponents he’d face would be relying on a consistent serve over a strong one.
“I think Alex and I did not play to our full potential,” Glasstein said. “I was not very confident in my volleys. I would go for a finish and mis-hit the ball giving the opponent an easy shot. And both of us made many unforced errors, which quickly added up.”
Westhampton Beach sophomore Josh Kaplan, the No. 8 seed, lost to Harborfields’ No. 1 Alex Rzehak 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. His singles teammates Andre Insalaco and Trevor Hayes, along with East Hampton’s Ravi MacGurn and Luke Louchheim, lost in the first round. All five of Westhampton’s individual tournament ticket-punchers, which include doubles players Kasper Buchen and Jake Ongania, and all five East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson players earned All-County nods.
The Bonackers now turn their attention to the team tournament. After going undefeated (10-0) in League VII and losing close matches to No. 1-seeded Half Hollow Hills East (5-2 March 20) and No. 2 Commack (5-2 May 1), the team was given the No. 5 seed. Earning a first-round bye, the Bonackers will host the winner of the May 14 matchup between No. 12 Miller Place and No. 21 Sayville, results of which were not available by press time, May 15 at 4 PM. Should they win they’ll advance to the quarterfinals scheduled to be played Thursday, May 16.
“I think all of us are looking forward to the team tournament,” Glasstein said. “The whole team has drastically improved since the start of the season. I think we have a chance to go pretty far in the tournament. We want to end on a high note.”
“The depth of our team this year is greater than any other year I have played,” DeGroot said. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to win the championship.”