Calista Sha and Morgan Wilkins of the Friends Academy completed its improbable run as a doubles tandem, winning the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) doubles title with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 comeback victory over Vanessa Ciano and Laina Campos of Ursuline on Monday morning at South Shore Indoor Tennis in Port Chester.
“It means everything, it’s really exciting,” said Wilkins, a senior. “It’s awesome to be able to do it for our coach for our team.”
The Wilkins-Sha duo struggled early on in Monday’s match as Ciano and Campos took the opening set and got out to an early lead in the second set, but turned the tables midway through the second set, and the senior-sophomore pairing stormed back to win the final two sets and claim the state championship.
“After being down so much in the first set and even at the start of the second set, we knew it was important to just stay focused and stay positive,” Wilkins added. “We just wanted to stay in it, because it is never over until it is over.”
Wilkins and Sha hadn’t played much doubles together leading up to the Nassau County tournament, but the two, who are normally top singles players, easily adapted to one another and continued to get better match to match.
“I think we got more comfortable playing with each other as it went on,” said Sha. “We got to know each other’s games. When Morgan was at the net, I can be at the baseline, and when I’m at the net, she can be at the baseline. We trust each other either way.”
A Nassau County doubles tandem has now won the last three NYSPHSAA titles, as Oyster Bay’s Courtney Kowalsky and Celeste Matute won the state title the previous two years.
Kowalsky, playing in the singles draw, concluded her high school tennis career with a third-place finish at the state tournament. Kowalsky defeated her best friend, Cold Spring Harbor’s Merri Kelly Hannity, 6-2, 6-1 in the third-place match on Monday in a rematch of the Nassau County final.
Check out both the singles and doubles draws from the state tournament: