| By Bobby Colton

After Mother Nature interfered with Syosset High School’s opener in Roslyn on Thursday, the team took the courts Monday afternoon against Friends Academy for the first time since their Long Island Championship title last year. With the reigning champs the heavy favorite, both coaches came into the match having a rather good idea of what the outcome might be.

“We are looking forward to this year,” said Syosset Coach Levane. Coach Levane noted that with four matches in the coming week, Syosset will learn exactly where they stand in this year’s division. Levane did put aside his modesty for a moment, conceding that the team expects to win again this season.

On the other hand, Friends’ Coach Baxter acknowledged that his club wasn’t ready to take the next step quite yet.

“This year is going to be a rough year. We have some new players, and we play in a tough conference. We’ll take some bumps in the road, but we’ll get better.” The coach also was quick to applaud Syosset’s talent, noting that he would love for his team to learn from Syosset’s more veteran team. “Syosset is a championship team, and we want to get to that level. Any king of tips we can get from them we’ll use to progress this season.”

One by one, Syosset’s players came off their courts boasting opening day wins.

Senior Ashley Sandler knocked off her second singles opponent with relative ease, taking her down in two sets, 6-0, 6-1. Sandler, like all of her teammates, was excited about the prospect of another Long Island title, but also shared some personal goals, hoping to make it to counties this season. Syosset’s first singles player, Junior Hannah Camhi, had a little more trouble with her match, facing off with an eighth grader from Friends.

“It was tough with the wind today,” said Camhi. “She was a good opponent, but I guess I was a little more consistent.”

As the wind ripped through the courts, Syosset continued to rip through the rest of Friends’ roster.  Third singles player for Syosset, Rithika Ready, quickly won her match, followed by victories for doubles teams, Lisa Petruzillo & Jen Glukhman, Hayley O’Rourke & Katie Cirella, and Rhea Malhotra & Paige Gindi.

The second doubles team of Natalie Nicholas & Alexa Sternchein had a little adversity to overcome before the match. Nicholas, a senior, injured her quad last Thursday in Syosset’s rain-shortened match against Roslyn. After some deliberation, Nicholas took the court despite her injured quad and helped Syosset seal the shutout in their opener.

Friends Academy’s squad knows that they aren’t at the level of Syosset quite yet, but they understand that the team has a bright future. “We’ve come together a ton this year after losing two starters,” said Alyssa Lavin. First doubles player Lauriane Pinto remarked on the same issue, after Syosset’s first doubles team mounted a comeback in her match. “We have a lot of new members, so we’re ready to try everything out for this season.”

While Friends Academy is a rebuilding program looking towards the future, Syosset is clearly a team that is on their way to a big season. With the likes of Camhi and Sandler at the helm, Syosset is well on their way to another strong showing this season, with their sights set on a second consecutive Long Island Championship.

Bobby Colton

<p>Bobby Colton is a student at Syosset High School who covers the Long Island tennis scene. &nbsp;</p>