In Syosset’s two regular season victories over Roslyn this season, the tandem of Zach Chan and Josh Antell came up short in both of their respective fourth doubles matches, including a blowout loss at Roslyn.
So when the duo had the chance to play Jacob Buchbinder and Andrew Lieblich again, this time in Tuesday afternoon’s Nassau County championship, they were ready.
“We lost both times we played them this year. The first match went to three sets but the second one at Roslyn was a blowout,” said Antell. “The biggest difference today was just being aggressive at the net and putting away our volleys.”
Chan and Antell exacted their revenge with a 6-3, 6-4 victory on Tuesday, which proved to be the fourth point for Syosset on the afternoon, clinching the Braves’ third straight county championship and its 51st straight victory overall in a rematch of last year's county final.
Syosset would go on to win the match 5-2.
Zach Chan and Josh Antell won the clinching match for Syosset.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be the clinching match,” added Chan. “The amount of work this team puts in, to be that clinching match and represent this win is just huge. I think those two losses contributed to us winning today. It was a huge motivating factor.”
While Syosset headed into the final undefeated, no one had given them a tougher test all season long than the Roslyn Bulldogs, who were edged 4-3 in both regular season matchups.
Kabir Rajpal put Syosset on the board early with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Sangjin Song in a matchup of two big-hitters.
“I know if I’m able to make more balls in, then I’ll be able to win,” said Rajpal. “So the mindset is to just play smart, keep the ball in. But when you have the opportunity, go for it and close out the point.”
Kabir Rajpal gets ready to rip a forehand during his straight sets win over Sangjin Song at second singles.
Soon after, junior Eli Grossman added to the Syosset lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Adrian Tsui at third singles, before Preet Rajpal and Adam Canarick came back from a set down to beat Zach Khazzam and Justin Lempert 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to push the Syosset lead to 3-0.
“Adam played out of his mind today,” said Rajpal, who paired with Grossman to win the Nassau County individual doubles title on Sunday. “His strokes, volleys and serves. It helped us push and push and push, and we knew it wasn’t over.”
After Rajpal and Canarick’s victory, Chan and Antell heard loud cheers from the other side of the courts while they were still playing, and thought that the team had clinched. But the team still needed one more win, and the pair delivered.
“I am so happy for all four doubles teams, because this is the best they’ve played this season,” said Syosset head coach Shai Fisher. “The fact that [Chan and Antell] clinched it is great, because sometimes fourth doubles gets overlooked. Even after they lost twice this year, they were saying to me all week that they were ready. And they were.
Roslyn was tough. It was definitely easier last year. They improved a lot. They took it to us both times in the regular season and we knew we’d have a really tough match today. But our doubles came through. I kept on preaching all year to the doubles guys that they hadn’t played a complete match yet. And they saved their best matches for last today.”
The other victory for Syosset on Tuesday came at third singles as Jeremy Levine and Justin Oresky won 6-4, 7-5 over Jared Cohen and Mikey Weitz.
Daniel Weitz won 6-3, 7-6(5) over Neel Rajesh at first singles and Chase Greenberg and Josh Cohen won 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 at second doubles for Roslyn's two victories.
"I'm very proud of the team," said Roslyn head coach KerriAnn Jannotte-Hinkley. "It's our second straight final and even though we came up a little short, I couldn't be prouder of their effort. We had 11 seniors uncluding nine starters. They have been the core group for years. They leave behind a legacy of hard work and playing the best that they can. I wouldn't trade this team and this season for anything."
Syosset will now carry its 51 match winning streak into the USTA Long Island Executive Cup on Thursday, when it takes on Half Hollow Hills East. The Thunderbirds defeated Half Hollow Hills West in the Suffolk County Championship last week.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.