For the fourth time in as many years, the Syosset High School Girls Tennis team has knocked off the Suffolk county champion, Half Hollow Hills East, to take the title of Long Island Champions. After finishing the regular season undefeated and taking out the Port Washington girls for the Nassau Championships almost a month earlier, it was a long time since the Syosset girls took the court as a team.
Following the Nassau team Championships, the Syosset girls played individually for the Nassau County crown and then the New York State crown. Syosset’s own Vivien Cheng brought home the New York State singles title, which helped to give her confidence moving forward for the team championship. Playing number one singles, Cheng was a virtually guaranteed point for the Syosset team all year long.
Needing to secure four points for the best of seven win over Suffolk Champions, Half Hollow Hills East, Syosset sent out its undefeated team onto the cold, cloud covered courts of Smithtown West High School. As the players warmed up and play got underway, the sun began to break through the clouds, and it was clear that Syosset was going to jump out to an early lead, taking the first set in all seven matches. Seemingly all at once, the top Syosset doubles teams finished off their opponents as the Syosset players rallied to victory to secure the match. The final match on the court was the second singles battle between Rithika Reddy of Syosset and Allison Huber representing Hills East. Although the match had been decided, Huber was not showing any signs of letting up. With both teams surrounding the courts cheering each points for their respective teammates, Huber brought the second set to a tie-break and won it, sending the match to a deciding 10-point super tie-break. Although she fought hard, Huber was unable to overcome the consistency and resilience of Syosset’s Reddy and fell in the end.
The Syosset girls celebrated, running on to the court to congratulate the winner and cheering “Champs! Champs!” After the match, the seniors realized it was the last tennis match they would play as a team, and even though it was bitter cold, they were thrilled to end their career with four consecutive County and Long Island Titles for Syosset.
"It was tough; you really had to focus and be patient out there, the goal was to win the States, but after that it is great to finish the season this way, as Long Island Champions," said Cheng. "The States are great to win, but it is as an Individual, It is great to win the Long Island Championship as a team four years in a row.”
The sophomore doubles squad of Kaitlin O'Rourke & Stacy Denbaum who have been partners all season added, “It is great to end the season as Long Island Champions, as a doubles team going undefeated was a bonus. We have great camaraderie.”
Credit all photos to Adam Wolfthal
Coaches advising players to keep warm between games
Vivien Cheng hits a backhand volley for a winner
Syosset's first doubles team of Joelle Porush & Paige Gindi discuss strategy
Allison Huber of Half Hollow Hills East reaches a third set against Rithika Reddy