The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) championships took place in Latham, N.Y., as the top girls high school tennis players from Long Island traveled upstate to compete in the state championships.
On Monday, Half Hollow Hills East’s Ester Chikvashvili captured the state singles title, and Oyster Bay’s Courtney Kowalsky & Celeste Matute won the doubles title.
Chikvashvili, the fifth seed, took on the third-seeded Tomo Iwasaki of Edgemont High School in the finals. Iwasaki had eliminated 2014 Nassau County Champion, Herricks High School’s Taylor Cosme, in the semifinals.
Chikvashvili came out of the gate firing, jumping out to a 4-0 lead to start the match. Iwasaki would try and work her way back into the set, getting within 2-5 at one point, before Chikvashvili took back the break advantage and won the final game to capture the set 6-2.
The second set would turn to out to be just the opposite of the opening set. This time, Iwasaki raced out to a lead, winning the first three games of the frame to go up 3-0. Chikvashvili would notch a break point and a couple of holds to pull within 3-4, before the senior from Edgemont took the final two games for the 6-3 set win.
The third set was a thriller, as the two would trade the first six games of the deciding frame.
With the set even at 3-3, Chikvashvili would take over, winning three of the next four games to outlast Iwasaki 6-4 and capture the state championship.
“I didn’t really worry about whether it was fourth or first place. I just wanted a medal. To finish my high school career off with a championship of some sort, like a win,” said Chikvashvili, who, despite being only a junior, will be graduating from high school this year. “This definitely beats anything I could have ever thought of and I couldn’t have asked for a better finish.”
On her way to the championship match, Chikvashvili defeated fellow Long Islander Alex Koniaev of Locust Valley. Chikvashvili came back from a set down to beat Koniaev 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) in the quarterfinals in a very tough encounter.
She then moved into the semifinals and a potential rematch with 2014 Suffolk County High School Girls runner-up Courtney Provan of Half Hollow Hills West. Unfortunately, the rematch, which would have been the fourth time the two met this year, was not to be.
Provan had to retire from her quarterfinal match with a back injury. At the time, she was trailing 2-6, 2-3 to Yuka Lin of Mary Louis Academy. Chikvashvili took care of Lin in the semis, though, with a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
Alex Koniaev ended up also winning a medal when she won the fourth place match against fellow Long Islander, Jackie Bukzin from Eastport-South Manor. Bukzin had reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual runner-up Iwasaki. Shanice Arthur of Jericho lost her first-round matchup to Kahlei Ressinger of Baldwinsville, but bounced back to win the back draw. Cosme finished third and medaled in Latham.
In the doubles final, Kowalsky & Matute drew a matchup with the top-seeded duo from Suffern, N.Y., Sydney Kaplan & Courtney Ollis. As they had done all tournament long, the Oyster Bay duo did not lose a set, defeating Kaplan & Ollis 6-4, 6-4.
“We both played amazing, it was really hard for us to do,” said Kowalsky. “I don’t think we’ve ever played this good before.”
Matute added, “It’s definitely been nerve-racking in getting here and making the finals. We have faith in each other and have a good bond on the court.”
In a battle between 2014 Nassau County Champions Kowalsky & Matute and 2014 Suffolk County Champions Stephanie Chikvashvili & Vanessa Scott from Half Hollow Hills East, Kowalsky & Matute were 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The team of Katie Cirella & Riha Malhotra from Syosset also reached the quarters this weekend before the pair fell to second-seeded Gillian Perrotta & Caroline McAtee of Eastchester. Perrotta & McAtee would go on to lose to eventual champions Kowalsy & Matute in the semifinals.
Manhasset’s Amanda Foo & Madeline Clinton won their first-round match over Connie Li & Connie Hou of Coming, N.Y. before losing in the second-round.
The other Long Island pairs in the doubles draw were Floyd’s Kelci Henn & Lisa Lin, and Half Hollow Hills West’s Danah Han & Nikaylah Williams, who both lost their respective first-round matches.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.