On the first day of the Suffolk IV girls tennis tournament, Rose Hayes had her eye on the posterboard with the singles bracket on it. After winning a hard-fought final on Wednesday, the Mercy eighth-grader took it home.
The top-seeded Hayes defeated No. 2 Jackie Bukzin of Eastport-South Manor, the reigning division and county champion, 7-5, 7-5, at Shoreham-Wading River in a rematch of last season’s division final. Bukzin had won the last three division championships.
“I remember the first day of the tournament, I wanted to bring the poster board home, so I got it,” Hayes said.
“She was my last match in the league, and I beat her there, so I got an idea of what I could do,” she said of Bukzin, who had won the previous four head-to-head matches. “I applied it to this match and it worked out. I knew if I did it before I could do it again.”
“It is our first division championship for a singles player in McGann-Mercy history,” coach Michael Clauberg said. “It is a testament to her. She is a fighter, she refuses to lose, and she’ll run any ball down.”
Hayes started strong, jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the first set before Bukzin fought back to make it 5-5. The eighth-grader answered by taking the next two games to win the set.
“It’s good to get off to a good start, but anything can happen, especially when your opponent is that good,” Hayes said. “I told myself, ‘you’re playing Jackie, Rose, so you have to focus!’ It’s always a tough match, it’s never easy.”
She said her ability to move was one of the keys to the win: “She hits good shots, she hits winners, so you have to move.”
“She’s phenomenal at seeing and getting to the ball,” Clauberg said. “Her effort is a coach’s dream.”
In the doubles final, Floyd’s Brooke Fernandez and Hailey Loughlin defeated Westhampton’s Onalee Batcheller and Emma Bender, 6-3, 1-2, via injury default.
Mattituck’s Liz Dwyer took third in singles after beating East Hampton’s Becca Kuperschmid, 7-6 (5), 6-0. Westhampton’s Rose Peruso and Juliet Tomaro defeated Floyd’s Katie Senetto and Chloe DeGrauw, 7-5, 6-1, to finish third in doubles.