On the coolest day of the fall so far, the Huntington High School varsity girls’ tennis team closed out its regular season by edging Kings Park, 4-3 to capture the Suffolk League II championship with a perfect 10-0 record.
Coached by longtime net mentor Jamie Fishlow, the Blue Devils have been impressive while turning back Smithtown West, Walt Whitman, Hauppauge, Kings Park and Northport in both home and road matches. Huntington is 11-1 overall this fall, including a pair of non-league contests.
The Blue Devils have come a long way since practice kicked off on August 22 on a very warm morning. Fishlow didn’t know what to expect from his squad. Last year’s Huntington team went 8-2 in league play (8-4 overall) and finished second in the final standings.
Emma Pipolo serves the ball
for Huntington. (Darin Reed photo)
“We lost some key players from last year and I went into the pre-season thinking I would have a solid team that for the most part lacked a lot of varsity experience,” said Fishlow after the Thursday afternoon’s match. “I did have some seniors who had good doubles experience, but this year they would have to step it up and play a leadership role, which would be a big responsibility; a question mark as well. I also didn’t have a strong, standout top player to lead the team, which is unusual, but I had to deal with it.”
Huntington’s standard lineup consists of sophomore Maire Brown in No. 1 singles, sophomore Christiana DeLuca in No. 2 singles, sophomore Cameron Fehrs in No. 3 singles and eighth grader Isyss Jones in the No. 4 singles position.
The Blue Devils’ regular doubles lineup features senior captain Gabby DeLuca and senior Theresa Moreno in the No. 1 slot, senior captain Abby Bellistri and sophomore Mia Breitbarth in the No. 2 position and seniors Emma Pipolo and Leanne Daly in No. 3 doubles.
The team also includes sophomore Christie Baade and seniors Jessica Cordes, Kiera Striano and Miranda Nykolyn. The four players give Huntington a degree of depth that few opponents could hope to match. Kayla Ryan is the team manager.
Huntington dropped a 4-3 non-league verdict to Longwood early in the season, but it hasn’t lost since. As the wins started piling up, the confidence of players grew exponentially.
“After a loss in our first non-league match I was concerned because nothing looked like it clicked, so I decided to go back to basics with the team and not worry about wins,” Fishlow said. “I just wanted to see skill improvement and growth as players on the court. The league season began and I changed my original line-up and we slowly started to win matches. We weren’t dominating opponents, but we were beating them. My emphasis in practice continued to be on the basics. I didn’t flinch in that regard and I’m glad I didn’t. The wins kept coming, but it was all about improvement. When we hit 6-0 in the league I started seeing the girls playing better and actually performing at a level that resulted from the hard work in practice. We had a quite a few 4-3 wins on the road to the title and the team dealt with the pressure and kept on improving.”
Huntington is looking forward to the Suffolk playoffs in October. “This season has proved to be completely satisfying as a coach,” Fishlow said.
Fishlow is retiring as a Huntington physical education teacher at the end of next June, but he plans on continuing to coach the boys’ and girls’ varsity tennis teams. He’s quite pleased with how the girls’ season has turned out.
“I might go out on a limb and say that this team is one of my best coaching years in my career,” Fishlow said. “I have had many [good years], but this one is right up there with some of the best. I am very proud of the girls. They really deserve this league championship.”