Northport freshman Cannon Kingsley captured the Suffolk County singles title on Monday afternoon, playing near-flawless tennis to defeat defending champion Chris Kuhnle of Shoreham-Wading River 6-1, 6-1at William Floyd High School.
After rolling to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Half Hollow Hills East’s Abhinav Srivastava in the semifinals, Kingsley did not miss a beat in the final.
“I just stayed steady and patient and took my opportunities when they were there,” said Kingsley. “It was definitely one of the best matches I have played.”
Kingsley took advantage of some double-faults from the big-hitting Kuhnle throughout the match, pouncing on the opportunity to break. After a Kuhnle double-fault gave Kingsley a break point chance, the freshman hit a net cord that dropped in on the other side of the net to take a 2-0 lead.
He continued to play clean tennis throughout the match and was able to seize some opportunities on Kuhnle errors. A screaming forehand winner on set point gave the freshman a 6-1 first set win, and he carried that momentum into the second set.
“I was able to get some more confidence from there,” said Kingsley. “I took advantage of some easy points and just really tried to make every point count”
The second set went similar to the first and when it was all said and done, Kingsley captured the Suffolk County title with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
Kingsley, who has grown five inches since last year, said his improved serve and forehand were the keys to his success this season and in this tournament.
“Last year, my backhand was better than my forehand, so I really worked on that just about every day this year,” he added. “I’ve been hitting my serve a lot better and with better placement.”
This was the first time that Kingsley and Kuhnle had played against one another, and this win is a huge confidence builder for the freshman heading into the state tournament.
“To know that I just beat the guy who made the quarterfinals in states last year is huge for me. I know I can do well [at states].”
Kingsley and Kuhnle both advance to states, and will be joined by Srivastava, who downed Huntington’s Jack Flores 6-0, 6-1 in the third-place match.
In the doubles final, top-seed Aziz Rashidzada and Jackson Weisbrot of Half Hollow Hills West defeated Ross School’s Jonas Linnman-Feuerring and Gonzalo Trapote 6-2, 6-1 to win the title.
“We just kept our focus and had a good mindset,” said Weisbrot. “We are two players who normally play doubles, so the more we’ve played the better our chemistry has been, and this was our best match together.”
The duo played seven doubles matches together throughout the regular season to be eligible to compete in the tournament, and the two have improved each and every match, culminating in the county championship.
“In the semifinals, we were definitely both a little nervous and let our opponents get in our heads a little bit,” said Rashidzada. “In the final we didn’t let up. We always kept our feet moving and played it point to point.”
In the semifinals, Rashidzada and Weisbrot let a 3-0 second-set lead slip away before closing it out 6-4, but the duo kept their foot on the gas pedal in the finals.
“That was a really good match for us heading into states, definitely our toughest one,” added Weisbrot. “If we play like that, we think we can beat anybody.”
In the third-place doubles match, the Hills East pairing of Justin Dubler and Adam Wilck outlasted North Babylon’s Tyree Grimsley and Lynus Fortaleza 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to qualify for the state tournament.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) tournament will take place from June 2-4 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Click Here to see more photos from Monday's action.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.