| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The long awaited match-up between Nassau County Champion Cold Spring Harbor and Suffolk County Champion Half Hollow Hills East did not disappoint yesterday as the teams finally took the court yesterday at Cold Spring Harbor High School. Those who attended yesterday's Long Island High School Championship were treated to high level tennis played with intensity on both sides. The match-up that was originally scheduled for last week, but delayed due to lineup issues was finally settled where and how it should be ... on the court and by the kids.

Both teams came into this battle undefeated on the season, but on this day, one would not leave with their undefeated record intact. Cold Spring Harbor also came in as the five-time defending Long Island Champions and had defeated Hills East in the prior three LI finals so the stakes were high as this year's match unfolded.

Hills East took an early 2-0 overall lead, winning second doubles when the pair of Roger Cheng & Michael Leffler were victorious in straight sets and also third doubles when Grant Rosenberg & Alec Tuckey won in straight sets . Tuckey and Rosenberg were paired together for the first time this season.

"It was an exciting match," said Tuckey. "The difference between singles and doubles is the teamwork needed. We [Rosenberg and Tuckey] practiced together leading up to the match and it was a lot of fun teaming up."

Cold Spring Harbor evened the matchup at two with wins at fourth doubles and third singles as JP Paris defeated Jeff Cherkin in straight sets. The stage was now set for a down-to-the-wire finish.

With the overall score tied at 2-2, three matches would determine the final outcome. Things were looking good for CSH, but the tide turned when second singles player Conor Mullins started cramping right before his second set tie-breaker. Mullins had taken the first set from Hills East's Kyle Alper, but was unable to move once the cramping began and had to go for winners on almost every ball. Alper, who played well throughout the match, played smart and took advantage of Mullins' lack of mobility. Alper won the crucial tie-breaker and then proceeded to further wear down Mullins in the third set for a 3-6, 7-6, 6-0 win. After the match, Alper was very appreciative of his win and his opponent.

"The first two sets were very competitive," said Alper. "I played hard and caught a few breaks to get through the tie-breaker. My opponent is a great competitor. I am happy to get through this match with a win."

With Hills East now leading 3-2, one more win would give them their elusive LI Championship. On Singles Court 1 Suffolk County Singles Champion Zain Ali and Nassau County Runner-Up Conor Dauer were in a third set, but Dauer had started to take control. That meant the match would come down to first Doubles. Hills East's Travis Leaf & Ross Reiffman against CSH's Nick Stamatos & Sean Mullins. In the third set, with the pressure building and the attention shifting their way, some kids would wilt under that kind of heat, but Leaf & Reiffman seemed to relish the situation. At 3-3 in the final set, they broke Stamatos & Mullins and proceeded to hold serve to put themselves one game away. They then broke Mullins' serve to close out the win as the team rushed the court in celebration pouring water buckets on the doubles pair who had sealed the victory for HHH East. After the win, Leaf said, "This feels great. I'm very happy we were able to support our team by winning the deciding match."

With the overall win already in hand, attention shifted back to the marquee match of the day as the top singles players finished up. Dauer was able to bounce back from dropping the first set and won in three sets. The match was played at a very high level, as both players left it out on the court. Dauer is a senior, but graduates with three Long Island Championships to his name and is off to William & Mary in the fall. Asked about the final match of his high school career, Dauer said, "This was very emotional. I give 100 percent every time I step on the court. I've had an amazing career here at CSH. Spending four years on this team was an awesome opportunity."

The future of the LI Championship match is up in the air. On this day, the story is what it should be, both sides playing a great match and an entertaining one. Hills East ends the season 20-0 and today, can call themselves 2013 Long Island Champions. Hills East Coach Tom Depelteau suffered a minor stroke on Tuesday night. He did not coach the team at yesterday's championship match, but reports are that he is doing very well. 

2013 Nassau Champs Cold Spring Harbor gather for a team photo

 

Conor Dauer of Cold Spring Harbor in his singles match against HHE's Zain Ali

 

Conor Mullins of CSH in his match against HHE's Kyle Alper

 

Half Hollow Hills East celebrates the clinching point securing the 2013 LI Championship

 

Cold Spring Harbor's JP Paris during his straight sets win over Jeff Cherkin

 

Hills East's Kyle Alper 

 

Hills East's Travis Leaf (pictured above) & Ross Reiffman were victorious over CSH's Nick Stamatos & Sean Mullins

 

Zain Ali of Hills East during the 2013 LI Championship match