For the second year in a row, the Nassau County Doubles Championship belongs to the Oyster Bay team of Celeste Matute (senior) & Courtney Kowalsky (junior). The two girls, who won last year’s Nassau County and New York State Doubles Titles, defeated the second-seeded team of Manhasset’s Lia Frankis & Amanda Foo in straight sets 6-2, 6-0 in the finals at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y.
"We're a good team. We work hard and practice hard together," said Matute. "We also communicate with each other well and motivate each other on the court. That is the key to our success."
Matute & Kowalsky defended their County Title in dominant fashion, rolling through their matches without dropping a set and losing only four total games in the semis and finals combined. In the semifinals, they defeated the third-place team, Jericho's Samantha Galu & Jiya Singh, 6-2, 6-0.
Kowalsky, who is a junior, said that both her and Matute have worked to improve their volleying skills and that it paid off in the championships.
"I think we have improved our net play and we set each other up really well," said Kowalsky. "Celeste is a senior, and next year, I'm really going to miss the chemistry we have on the court together."
For now, the Oyster Bay duo's main focus is heading back to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Championships to defend their title.
The singles final featured Hewlett’s Kseniya Zonova, a native of the Ukraine who was playing in her first tennis tournament on U.S. soil and Cold Spring Harbor's Merri Kelly Hannity. Zonova defeated Hannity 6-2, 6-1. Hannity is an eighth grader who was also competing in her first Nassau County tournament. Zonova upset the number one-seeded Alex Koniaev of Locust Valley in the semis, 6-2, 7-6, while Hannity survived a fantastic match with second-seeded Ashley Lessen from Wheatley as she was able to pull out an impressive 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win, in a match that lasted over two hours.
In the finals, Zonova used her power and consistency to grab the lead, taking the first set 6-2, but Hannity kept fighting in the second set. Hannity used impressive groundstrokes from both sides to take an early 1-0 lead. After Zonova battled back to tie the score 1-1, Hannity worked hard in the third game trying to break Zonova's serve. The game lasted almost ten minutes with both players taking ad point multiple times. Zonova was able to grind it out and won the game with a strong swinging volley at the net. From there, she cruised to win the next four games, winning the match and the 2015 Nassau County Championship, 6-2, 6-1.
"After winning that 1-1 game, it gave me confidence," said Zonova. "That game was very stressful mentally, but I tried to mix it up with slices and hard shots, and it ended up working." She added that Hannity played great and generated power from the baseline that caused her to really adjust her game.
"I was on the run a lot and I just tried to return her shots,” said Zonova. “She hit some really great shots out there."
Hannity said she tried to hit as hard as she could and move her opponent around, but felt she lacked consistency.
"She got a lot of my balls back and made me hit extra shots," added Zonova.
Both Hannity and Zonova said that they are looking forward to playing at States for the first time. They will be joined at States by Ashley Lessen, who won her Consolation Match over Koniaev 6-2, 7-6 (4).
In doubles, Jericho's Galu & Singh claimed the final spot in the States, along with Matute & Kowalsky and Frankis & Foo, after a 6-2, 6-0 win over Port Washington's Emma Rosenberg & Sydney Levy.
The NYSPHSAA Championships will be played Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in Latham, N.Y.
Credit all photos to Keith Kowalsky
Manhasset’s Lia Frankis & Amanda Foo, Oyster Bay's Courtney Kowalsky & Celeste Matute, and Jericho's Samantha Galu & Jiya Singh will represent Nassau County next week at the State Championships
Hewlett’s Kseniya Zonova, Ashley Lessen from Wheatley and Cold Spring Harbor's Merri Kelly Hannity are headed to the 2015 State Championships
Manhasset’s Amanda Foo teamed with Lia Frankis in the girl's doubles finals
Ashley Lessen from Wheatley finished in third place to qualify for the State Championships
2015 Girl's Doubles Champion Courtney Kowalsky from Oyster Bay
2015 Nassau County Individual Champion Kseniya Zonova of Hewlett en route to her 6-2, 6-1 win over Cold Spring Harbor's Merri Kelly Hannity
Nassau County Doubles Champs Celeste Matute & Courtney Kowalsky celebrate their victory
Manhasset’s Lia Frankis in the girl's doubles finals
Nassau County Girl's Singles Finalists Hewlett’s Kseniya Zonova and Cold Spring Harbor's Merri Kelly Hannity with the latest copy of Long Island Tennis Magazine
Eighth grader Merri Kelly Hannity from Cold Spring Harbor is headed to Latham, N.Y. for the 2015 State Championships
Oyster Bay's Celeste Matute & Courtney Kowalsky, 2015 Nassau County Doubles Champions, show off the latest copy of Long Island Tennis Magazine