With just one win away from consecutive Nassau County Girls High School Tennis Finals appearances, Syosset High School’s Varsity Tennis team wasn’t feeling the pressure to win.
“There’s no extra pressure,” Syosset’s coach Larry Levane said as the match got underway. “The girls are experienced. They’re confident and I’m confident in them. If we’re going to get beat, we’re going to get beat swinging.”
Syosset got off to a quick start, thanks to strong doubles play. The fourth doubles tandem of Stacey Anton & Paige Gindi made quick work of Jericho’s duo of Taylor Lashley & Carly Sandler, giving Syosset an early edge. Second doubles partners Jen Glukhman & Alexa Sternschein edged out Julie Pliskin & Allie Flum, putting Syosset ahead with an early 2-0 lead.
“We had a great season,” said Pliskin. “We got it together in the second set, but if we had played like that in the first set, we would have had a better chance at winning.”
Jericho began to make up ground when the second singles match came to a close. Syosset Senior Ashley Sandler suffered from what her coach described as “tired legs” from her frequent play over the last few days, and fell to standout Jericho eighth grader Shanice Arthur. While seeing her teammates trailing around her, the young Arthur kept a positive outlook for the Jericho program and for her current teammates. “Win or lose, we’re still a team.”
After Rithika Reddy took third dingles for Syosset in a win over Jericho’s April Pun, Syosset was firmly holding onto a 3-1 lead.
When the first match ended, Coach Levane deployed Syosset’s greatest asset, first singles star Hannah Camhi.
“We relied on Hannah for the fourth win, so when we got the third and Hannah was still playing, we knew we’d gotten the fourth,” Coach Levane said. And Camhi did not disappoint, winning in straight sets over Claudia Li to clinch the victory for Syosset.
Jericho Co-Captains Claudia Li and April Pun were very pleased with their team's performance, especially since the team lacked any senior presence.
“We worked really hard this year, but we feel like we won because we are still a team,” Li remarked. “This year, Jericho did really well, and we supported each other through all the hardships. Coach inspired us and gave us helpful advice from the sidelines. Even though our season’s over, we can’t wait to do better next year.”
Even though Syosset had already won, the two best matches of the day hadn’t ended yet. Both first doubles and third doubles went into tie-breakers in the third set. After winning the first set, but falling in a second set tie-breaker, Syosset’s doubles team of Haley O’Rourke & Katie Cirella pulled out the victory in the third. Jericho managed their second win of the day when first doubles pair Melissa Curley & Brittany Malen edged out Syosset’s Natalie Nicholas & Lisa Petruzillo.
After pulling out this relatively close match, this Friday, Syosset will look to repeat their championship performance from a year ago.
<p>Bobby Colton is a student at Syosset High School who covers the Long Island tennis scene. </p>