| By Brian Coleman

 

Nassau County Boys High School Preview

Syosset Looks to Maintain Its Dominance

Syosset High Schools Boys Tennis and “winning” have become synonymous over the last few seasons in Nassau County Boys Tennis. The Braves have won 52 consecutive matches, a streak that includes three straight Nassau County Championships and last spring’s Long Island title, and they are once again the county favorites as we head into 2018.

“No doubt about it, the last three seasons have been amazing,” said Syosset Head Coach Shai Fisher, who is entering his 11th season leading the Syosset Boys program. “But looking back now, every year over the last 10 years has been special in its own way. All due to the relationships you develop with each of the boys. Seeing them improve and grow as individuals and teammates makes it that much more gratifying, win or lose.”

That sort of attitude has been at the heart of Syosset’s success in recent years. Despite its talented and deep roster, there are few teams with as much camaraderie and chemistry as the Braves.

They wear uniform shirts for their matches, and feverishly cheer on one another, no matter what court is being played, fostering a culture of support and winning that is passed on from class to class.

The Braves will be losing their first singles player from last season, Neel Rajesh, who will be homeschooled this year. But, in typical Syosset fashion, it will be replacing him with nationally-ranked Daniel Pellerito, a senior at Syosset High School who will be playing high school tennis for the first time.

“The team aspect is not something I am used to,” said Pellerito. “I am going to put my all into it.”

Returning to the squad this season will be last year’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Doubles Semifinalists Preet Rajpal & Eli Grossman.

The two anchored the doubles lineup a year ago, playing in the top spot and claiming the Nassau County Individual Title before reaching the semifinals at States. Fisher said he is still undecided on if the two will play doubles once again this season, or if they will be split up and play singles.

“We do have a lot of depth coming back, but like every time, we lose players for several reasons as well,” said Fisher. “As long as we stay healthy and keep putting in the time and effort in practice, our expectation and goal is to be competing for another run at the County Title and Long Island Championship.”

Those fun, yet highly competitive practices, have been one of the primary catalysts in the program’s sustained success.

“I’m not sure when exactly it started, but it just goes back to a basic principle of making each minute at practice purposeful and meaningful for each player, from the top guy down to our number 15,” said Fisher. “The competitive and intense, yet still fun nature at practice makes everyone better. For example, during one of our drills no one wants to be known as the guy who makes the unforced error from the baseline that interrupts the flow of the practice point. It keeps the pressure on everyone to perform at a high level, which I feel helps the guys with the pressure they feel during a match since they get more accustomed to it from practice.”

Syosset captured the 2017 Long Island Executive Cup, and enters this season on a 52-match win streak. 

 

Nassau County: Players to Watch in 2018

 

►Patrick Maloney      Oyster Bay

►Anthony Casale      Plainview JFK

►Matt Cashin            Cold Spring Harbor

►Alex Karman          Port Washington

►Zach Khazzam        Roslyn

►Daniel Pellerito       Syosset

►Griffin Schlesinger Cold Spring Harbor


Suffolk County Boys High School Preview

Hills East Ready to Once Again Defend Suffolk Title

Half Hollow Hills East has been the dominant program in Suffolk County tennis for a long time now, and the Thunderbirds reclaimed the County title last season after a two-year drought.

Hills East had lost to its crosstown rival, Hills West, in the County Championship in consecutive seasons before Hills East took back the title with a win last season.

“Our expectation every year is that we will compete for the County Title,” said Hills East Head Coach Tom Depelteau. “We won the Suffolk County Championship after losing the two previous years. We plan to repeat.”

Depelteau is entering his 33rd season at the helm of Hills East, and has led the team to 10 County titles over the last 15 seasons. The Thunderbirds enter 2018 as the favorite to repeat as Suffolk champions, a role they are certainly used to playing. The school has a depth of players throughout its junior varsity and varsity teams, which ensures that year-in and year-out, they are putting out a top-level lineup.

Hills East loses its first doubles pair of Tyler London & Adam Wilck, but Depelteau says the training and work ethic of the entire team help make up for whatever players the team loses.

“Although we did lose key players, nonetheless, I expect that all the boys in the program have worked hard to improve their skills,” said Depelteau. “Our doubles practice sessions last season were always very intense and provided great practice for the boys who will end up high in our doubles lineup this year.”

Leading the charge will be first singles player Abhinav Srivastava, who is entering his senior season. Srivastava won the Consolation Singles Draw at the NYSPHSAA Championships last year, and will be one of the top players on Long Island this spring.

“I hope to see our team do better than we did last year. While we were able to capture the County Title, I believe our minds are focused on the Long Island Title this year,” said Srivastava. “I believe that, as a team, we are closer this year and are hungry. We have lots of seniors on the team and we want to make our last year the best one yet. We are still a very strong team, and we hope to capture both the County Title and the Long Island Championship this year.”

Joining Srivastava at the top of the singles lineup is fellow Co-Captain Ethan Ertel, who is slated to play second singles this season. Hills East also returns experienced players Avi Anand, Jai Madisetty, Ishan Varma and Evan Huang, providing the roster with talented and veteran depth.

Abhinav Srivastava will play first singles this season for Half Hollow Hills East, as the Thunderbirds look to repeat as Suffolk County Champions

 

Suffolk County: Players to Watch in 2018

►Alex Benanti             Ward Melville

►Jack Flores               Huntington

►Cameron Klepper     Half Hollow Hills West

►Alex Rzehak              Harborfields

►Abhinav Srivastava  Half Hollow Hills West

►Sol Yoon                   Commack

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com