William Floyd High School Girls Tennis pulled off a huge upset to beat the three time defending Suffolk County Champions Half Hollow Hills East 4-3 in the Suffolk County Championship Match. The win snapped Hills East's 69 consecutive Suffolk County match winning streak and also avenged Floyd's loss to Hills East in last year’s Suffolk final, as well as a regular season loss earlier this year.
With the score tied at three matches, it all came down to a fourth singles match between Floyd’s Christina Cali and Gabby Raziel of Hills East. Cali and Raziel were stuck in an epic battle, and their match ran so long on Monday that the sun set and the match was postponed until the next day. When play resumed, the girls had split sets and Raziel led 3-2 in the third set. Both girls played very well and were able to handle the pressure-filled situation. In the end, it came down to just a couple of big points and Cali was able to come back in dramatic fashion from a deficit to win the deciding set 6-4 and lifting Floyd to It’s the first ever Suffolk County Girls Championship.
The stage was set for a “David vs. Goliath” situation, as described by Floyd Coach Dave Pia of his school facing the three-time defending champs.
“Our goal was to get back here to the final and we were able to do that,” said Pia. “To beat Hills East is just amazing. My kids played super, it was an amazing job all around, and I’m just so happy for them.”
“It feels amazing,” said Floyd Senior Cali after the match. “It was a really long season, and I had to put a lot of work in, but in the end, it was all worth it. It’s such a great way to finish.”
Although fourth singles ended up as the deciding match it was Floyd’s strong doubles play which was the key to the victory as they won all three doubles courts.
At first doubles, Kelci Henn & Lisa Lin defeated Dinya Rao & Melissa Achenbaum 6-2, 6-1. Second doubles saw Kayla D'Addario & Zoe Dasilva defeat Mary Kravitz & Ariana Malik 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, and at third doubles, Kaitlin Hibbert & Victoria Panicola defeated Joanna Wang & Brynn April 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
“Second doubles was the one we let get away,” said Hills East Coach Tom Depelteau, who will be losing six of his seniors next year and described the 2015 season as a “transitional” year.
Hill’s singles looked as strong as it has been all season, as Ester Chikvashvili defeated Emily Fernandez 6-0, 6-2 at first singles; Vanessa Scott defeated Brooke Fernandez 6-3, 6-0 at second singles; and Stephanie Chikvashvili defeated Antonette Viglione 6-0, 6-2 at third singles.
“I’m definitely feeling some nostalgia,” said Hills East Senior Scott. “This is the last time I’m going to be playing with my team and it’s really exciting/upsetting at the same time.”
The 2014 high school season isn’t over yet for four of William Floyd’s girls and three of Hills East’s. Antonette Viglione, Kelci Henn, Lisa Lin and Kayla D’Addario of Floyd, along with Ester Chikvashvili, Stephanie Chikvashvili and Vanessa Scott of Hills East will be heading to this weekend’s New York State Championship in Latham, N.Y.
All the girls are extremely excited. Ester Chikvashvili, who lost in last year’s quarterfinal to the second-seeded Sabrina Barisano 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, is looking for a rematch.
“This time it’s going to be different, this time I’m ready” Ester said.
William Floyd is the only team in New York State to have four all-state players represented at the State Championships, but their whole team can now celebrate being crowned 2014 Suffolk County Champs.
Credit all photos to Matthew Cohen
<p>Matthew Cohen is director of business development for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached by phone at (516) 409-4444, ext. 306 or e-mail <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</p>