The coach of the Rye Neck Girls’ tennis team recently learned that his veteran number one singles player, with a career record of 46-1, won’t be playing varsity tennis this fall.
By Mitch Silver
The coach of the Rye Neck Girls’ tennis team recently learned that his veteran number one singles player, with a career record of 46-1, won’t be playing varsity tennis this fall. Instead, league singles champ Ekim Buyuk — who also happens to be half of the defending State Finalist pairing in doubles — will work on improving her game at the Randall’s Island Tennis Academy. So why is Mark Canno smiling?
“As tough as it is to lose a sensational player like Ekim … and I think she might have been the best high school player in Westchester this year … we still have a strong team,” Canno told me. “We should be okay.”
Actually, the Panthers will be much more than okay, thanks to the other half of that State doubles team, Diana King, and her talented teammates. King, All-World in her spring sport of softball, has played a strong second singles for several seasons, and ninth grader Alana Proudian will open at number three. “Diana has great court coverage, so we’ll also be playing her in first doubles from time to time,” the coach noted. “And Alana’s improved a ton.”
But that smile on his face appears when the coach watches his two newcomers to the school. Clemence Balzano, a ninth grader from France, is ranked in the U-14s in her native land. Now she’s playing first singles on Hornidge Road. “She has wonderful power for such a young player,” Canno said. “And we also welcomed Mizuki Shionoya, a junior who will play solid tennis at both singles and doubles for us.”
The Panthers opened the season on a high note, whipping Hastings 6-1. Balzano won at first singles, 6-0, 6-1. King took her match at 0 and 2 and Proudian nearly equaled her at 1 and 2. Junior Julia Wright teamed with Shionoya to breeze, 6-0, 6-1. Senior Lauren Mastaloni and junior Carly Merrill also won easily, 6-1, 6-1 Not to be outdone, junior Anabel Thurman and soph Ellie Williams took their match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Only ninth graders Lindsey Sexton and Beatrix Cress failed to win their fourth doubles match, losing 10-4 in a tiebreaker.
Look for the competition to heat up when the team hosts Pleasantville September 16, and then travels to Harrison for a match two days later.