Aimee Manfredo serves up 'big-time redemption' in winning Suffolk singles title
Aimee Manfredo had been in this situation before.
The Shoreham-Wading River senior was the runner-up at last year's Suffolk girls tennis singles championships, losing in three sets after winning the first set.
On Monday, she returned to the county final as the top seed, and won the first set over Eastport-South Manor eighth-grader, third-seeded Jackie Bukzin, 6-3.
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Only this time she made sure to finish what she started.
"I was up a set in the finals last year, so once I won the first set today I thought, 'OK, I need to stay focused,' " Manfredo said. "This is my third time at counties and now I finally have a title under my belt. It's definitely big-time redemption."
Manfredo beat Bukzin 6-3, 6-2, at Smithtown East to claim the title. Manfredo, Bukzin and Ester Chikvashvili of Half Hollow Hills East all qualified for the state championships as the top three finishers in the county.
In doubles, Alli Huber of Hills East won her second consecutive title, teaming up as the top-seeded pair with Vanessa Scott to beat No. 2 Kelsey Henn and Lisa Linn of Floyd in the final, 6-1, 6-3. Both pairs, along with third-place finishers Danah Han and Lauren Salzano of Half Hollow Hills West, also qualified for states, which begin Nov. 2.
Manfredo fell behind an early break and trailed 3-2 in the first set, but won the next four games using an impressive kick-serve and a consistent backhand. The 5-foot Manfredo and 5-3 Bukzin featured powerful strokes, but ultimately Manfredo's power won out in the second set. In the deciding game, Manfredo hit a backhand passing shot for a 40-15 lead, and clinched the title when she charged the net and hit a sharp-angled forehand winner.
"I remember some points my backhand just took it all the way," Manfredo said. "It's tough against Jackie because I know she's always going to get the ball back. Every point is a fight with her."
In doubles, Huber and Scott were dominant throughout the tournament with Huber's play along the baseline and Scott's big forehand. Huber, a senior, won last year's title with Amanda Luper, who graduated. Huber said Scott, a junior, was the obvious choice.
"Amanda and I worked really well together but Vanessa and I are really good friends also, so it might sound cheesy but it's a big deal to play with her," Huber said. "We work so well together because we're such good friends."