Garden City High School's Alexa Graham showed that age is not always a factor, as the freshman won the 2012 Nassau County Girls Individual Tennis Championships at Eisenhower Park on Sunday. In the finals, the 14-year-old took on the top-seeded Vivian Cheng of Syosset and Graham fought throughout to earn the straight-set victory.
Graham showed nerves early and started slow, falling behind 0-3 in the opening set, but she fought back, and at 3-5, down broke serve to eventually force a first set tie-breaker which she won. She used that momentum in the second set where she unleashed vicious forehands and had Cheng running to both sides of the court. Graham defeating Cheng, 7-6(1), 6-2.
"It feels great as a freshman and playing my first year of high school tennis to be able to win this," said Graham. "I just tried to concentrate on my footwork out there and tried to change the height and pace of the ball a little bit more in the second set. Vivian and I played twice during the regular season, so we were kind of familiar with each other's game."
Garden City was also represented in the doubles finals, as Morgan Herrmann & Brittany Burke took on the top-seeded Hewlett team of Veronika Paikan & Gabriella Leon. Both teams battled back and forth before Leon & Paikan were able to pull out a thrilling three set victory, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5. This was the second three-set match of the day for Paikan & Leon who defeated Syosset's Rithika Reddy & Katie Cirella 6-7 ,6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals earlier in the morning.
"It is an amazing feeling to be able to win two straight Nassau County championships especially this being both of our senior seasons," said Paikan. "We just never stopped believing in ourselves even when we lost that first set."
"I've been battling injuries and illnesses all season long and to come out and win here today with my partner is such a great feeling," said Leon.
In the consolation matches, Great Neck North's, Nicole Torres defeated Manhasset's, Nicole Koskovolis, 6-4 7-5 in singles. In doubles, Port Washington's Lauren Livingston & Emma Brezel knocked off Syosset's Rithika Reddy & Katie Cirella, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
The finalists and the third place finishers will all represent Nassau County at the 2012 New York State Girls High School Tennis Championship, set for Friday-Monday, Nov. 2-5 in Albany, N.Y.
►Click here to view the final 2012 Nassau County Girls Individual Singles draw.
Credit all photos to Gary Simeone