South Side showed some mental fortitude after a couple of tough losses last week, rebounding with a 5-2 victory over Kennedy on Oct. 4 to take hold of the second — and last — playoff spot in Nassau Conference 2B girls’ tennis.
The Lady Cyclones (9-2; one win behind first-place Lynbrook), who finished runners-up to Oceanside in conference play a year ago and reached the playoffs, are getting strong play from all courts especially their dynamic duo at the top of the lineup.
“The second time through the schedule is always more difficult,” South Side coach Chris Colesanti said. “We went 7-0 in the first half, but I figured we’d have some bumps in the road because a bunch of matches were close and we’re playing good teams.
“We still control our own destiny for the second playoff spot,” he added. “It’s basically a three-team race with Lynbrook just ahead of us and Plainview.”
Senior Julia Gentile and sophomore Lauren Zola are setting the tone for the Lady Cyclones while splitting the workload at No. 1 and 2 singles. They’re a combined 21-1, with Zola undefeated in 11 matches after going 8-4 in the top spot in 2017. “They’re both first singles players and it’s a nice problem to have,” Colesanti said.
Gentile is a four-year starter at singles and went 13-0 last season as the No. 2. “Julia played a lot over the summer and came into August in great form,” Colesanti said. “She’s a smart all-court player with excellent variety and strategy.”
Zola, who trains extensively and is USTA ranked, is a powerful and aggressive baseliner with a topnotch backhand and serve. “She’s physically and mentally stronger and more confident,” Colesanti said.
At third singles, freshman Meghan Sherlock is holding her own with a .500 record through eight matches. “She has a lot of upside and solid strokes,” Colesanti said. “It’s not easy for a freshman to crack a varsity singles lineup. She just has to keep gaining experience and overcome slow starts.”
Seniors Caroline Ditchik and Katie Mazzanobile are a rare fourth-year doubles tandem and holding up the top spot for a third straight campaign. They’ve won twice as many matches as they’ve lost. “They’ve always been comfortable with each other and bring different components to the court,” Colesanti noted.
At second doubles, juniors Kailey McCarthy, who covers a ton of court, and Julia Temple, with strong volley skills at the net, have been victorious in seven of 10. Juniors Emilia Fuentes and Lauryn Rose were undefeated at third doubles through seven matches before falling to Lynbrook on Oct. 3. Rose was the JV No. 1 singles player a year ago. Another junior, Leah DeVito, has been a mainstay at fourth doubles and most recently paired with freshman Maeve Laurie to earn four wins.