A year ago, the Commack Cougars saw its undefeated season come to an end in a heartbreaking loss to Half Hollow Hills East in the Suffolk County championship.
“That bus ride home from the final last year was very long and very quiet,” said Commack head coach Jackie Clark. “We felt like we could have won last year, but it didn’t work out.”
So on Tuesday, playing on the same courts at William Floyd High School, Commack would not be denied a second time, defeating Ward Melville 6-1 to be crowned county champions on a cold and windy afternoon.
As was the case all season, Commack was anchored by its two top singles players, Kimberly Liao and Emily Tannenbaum.
Just an eighth-grader, Tannenbaum made quick work of Ward Melville’s Jade Eggleston, beating her 6-0, 6-1 at second singles in the first match off to give Commack the early edge.
Emily Tannenbaum hits a forehand during her straight-sets win over Jade Eggleston in the second singles match.
“Emily grew and really developed her game even more because she works really hard and plays a lot of tournaments during the year to become match tough,” Clark added. “She has a dynamite game—lefty, topspin, backhand slice, and she comes to the net a lot, something you don’t see a lot in today’s game.”
Soon after Tannenbaum wrapped up her match, the first doubles tandem of Emma Matz and Julia Kinalis earned the second win for Commack with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Anna Ma and Morgan Voulo.
It wouldn’t be long until Commack got the last two victories it needed to clinch the championship. Almost at the exact same time, Liao defeated Denise Lai 6-3, 6-1 in a matchup of two all-state singles players, and the second doubles team of Emma Mangels and Andrianna Kaimis won 6-4, 6-1 over Julia Hu and Dara Berman, sealing Commack as the county champs.
Commack's Emma Mangels and Andrianna Kaimis celebrate a point during their second doubles win.
“It’s an incredible feeling. The girls have worked so hard since last year when we had a taste of success, making it to the final. It didn’t work out that day, and many of the girls worked hard all year on their own,” said Clark. “We had a couple of new additions to the team that gave us so much depth, and it’s an amazingly cohesive team. The chemistry is fantastic; everyone works hard at every practice.
We wanted it, we were hungry and were ready to compete. This is just amazing.”
Commack will take on Friends Academy on Wednesday afternoon at John Burns Park in Massapequa Park in the first ever Long Island Executive Cup.
Friends Academy defeated Great Neck North 6-1 in the Nassau County championship on Tuesday afternoon.
Ward Melville's Denise Lai, who will be heading up to the New York State tournament this weekend, hits a forehand during her first singles match against Kimberly Liao.
Commack's Gabi Glickstein hits a backhand during her third singles match against Jillian Shulder.
Ward Melville's Jade Eggleston plays a ball deep in her second singles match against Emily Tannenbaum.
Suffolk County singles finalist Kimberly Liao helped Commack clinch the county title with her first singles win over Denise Lai.