In a sport often defined by individual play, the Oceanside girls’ tennis team operated as one unit in 2013 and was rewarded with the program’s first conference title in three years.
The Lady Sailors capped off a 14-1 season by winning the Conference II championship, 4-3, against Locust Valley on Oct. 21 at Garden City High School. Oceanside coach Jamie Della Rocca described her squad as one that was “team-first” through the ups and downs making a championship even that much more fulfilling.
“They supported each other through every point,” said Della Rocca, whose program competed in Conference I in 2012. “There was a lot of camaraderie and encouragement.”
The Sailors run to the title included winning two clutch matches down the stretch. In a 4-3 playoff win against North Shore on Oct. 18, sophomore Montaine LeGoupil won a deciding match that took two days to complete due to darkness with a dramatic 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 victory against Christina Jud. LeGoupil’s clutch performance took place with all her teammates cheering her on since all other matches had already been completed.
“That was the pivotal match of the season,” said Della Rocca. “Talk about a pressure situation…She really held it together.”
Three days later and the Conference II championship on the line, it was the first doubles team of Shannon Mullins and Jessica Schwarz who stepped up under pressure. With once again all other matches finished and the score knotted 3-3, Mullins and Schwarz came through with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win that clinched Oceanside’s first girls tennis title since 2010.
“They really made an amazing team,” said Della Rocca of her first doubles tandem. “They held it together.”
Oceanside’s championship squad included eight seniors and four underclassmen. A key addition was freshman Julieta Eulua, who played at the No. 2 singles spot. Junior Mara Stewart also stepped up large in singles play a season after squaring against some of the area’s top players in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spot while the Sailors competed in Conference I.
With Mullins and Schwarz as anchors, doubles play was also comprised of senior captains Danielle Bloecker and Kelsey Bass in the No. 2 position, senior Rebecca Herz and sophomore Sami Bloecker at No. 3, and seniors Sara Dauber and Maggie Poulos at No. 4.
Della Rocca was impressed by the leadership displayed by Bloecker and Bass as captains in setting the tone for the team by organizing pasta dinners before matches and sleepovers throughout the season.
“The captains really did a phenomenal job bringing the team together,” she said. “The team really bonded.”
Della Rocca said a team dinner celebrating the magical 2013 season is planned prior to the Nov. 19 Oceanside school board meeting where girls tennis along with other standout fall teams and athletes will be recognized. The season brought such enjoyment to Della Rocca she wishes it could have gone on even longer.
“When the season was over it was sad,” she said. “This team really has a piece of my heart.”