As a freshman, Rachel Arbitman came up just short in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Championship match a year ago, dropping a straight-set match to Our Lady of Mercy’s Julia Andreach.
So when the Hewlett sophomore captured the Nassau County singles title for the second straight year to qualify for states, she entered the NYSPHSAA tournament with some extra motivation to go one step further.
“Losing in the final last year gave me a lot of motivation to come back and win the championship,” said Arbitman. “I was really focused on my goal of winning and that was the only thing I was thinking about.”
The top-seeded Arbitman compiled a dominant tournament run up at the Tri-City Tennis Club in Latham, N.Y. After defeating Suffolk County runner-up Emily Tannenbaum of Commack in the quarterfinals, Arbitman ousted fourth-seed Rebecca Lim, to book her spot in the championship against former NYSPHSAA Champion Caitlyn Ferrante of Yorktown.
But Arbitman used her motivated mindset to play her best tennis in the final, defeating Ferrante 6-3, 6-0 to claim the NYSPHSAA title.
It is the ninth time in the last 14 years that a girl from Long Island has won the state title, including fellow Hewlett Bulldog Kseniya Zonova in 2015.
Her excellent fall season did not stop there, however, as Arbitman continued her excellent results beyond the high school season. She traveled up to Minneapolis, Minn. to compete in the USTA National Indoor Championships, and continued her momentum from states.
“Winning the states against strong opponents without even losing a set gave a lot of confidence,” said Arbitman. “I was able to carry this momentum to the National Indoors where I won the championship without losing a set as well.”
As the second-seed, Arbitman won six straight matches in straight sets including a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over sixth-seed Katja Wiersholm to win the title and the famous Gold Ball.
“Winning the Singles Gold Ball has been a dream of mine since I was very young,” Arbitman said. “Finally being able to accomplish that gives me a great feeling as I head towards this upcoming year.”
It was an excellent fall season for Arbitman, and it began with her torrid play during the high school season. She helped lead her Hewlett Bulldogs to the Nassau County Championship, and went on to the county and state title, and will be the favorite to defend her title in her junior season.