After not having a season last spring, the Commack boys’ tennis team came out motivated more than ever in 2021. That motivation helped guide the Cougars to an undefeated regular season, which it capped off with a county championship after defeating Ward Melville 6-1 on Thursday afternoon at Shoreham-Wading River High School.
“We’re really happy. These kids worked exceptionally hard,” said Commack head coach Jimmy Delevante. “Every day at practice, we pushed them, and they would challenge me to push them even harder. No complaints, just the most polite, hard-working kids I could ask for.”
After defeating Hills East in the semifinals on Wednesday, Commack aimed to push its season record to 17-0 on Thursday, but it was Ward Melville who jumped out to the early lead in the county final.
The first doubles duo of Matthew Kronenberg & Gabe Bursztyn, who won the county doubles title the previous weekend, put the Patriots ahead with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
But the county singles champion, Commack’s Eddie Liao, evened things up with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph at first singles.
“It’s both his skill set and the energy he brings,” Delevante said of Liao. “I think knowing that he is on the team gives everyone a little extra confidence. They look to him as a leader, and he sets the example every day. He’s such a team player and is always supporting all the guys; he is such an asset to us.”
After Liao’s win, Commack began to rattle off more wins and started to pull away. Soon after, Matthew Strogach notched a 6-0, 7-6(5) win at third singles, and Eric Benderly won 6-1, 6-2 at fourth singles to put some separation between the two teams.
The clinching victory would come from the second doubles tandem of Joe Romito & Ryan Burke, who won 7-5, 6-4 to seal their team’s title.
James Yu notched a 6-3, 6-2 victory at second singles, and Saharsh Peddireddy & Avi Gupta rounded out Commack’s six points with a 1-6, 6-0, 6-2 comeback at fourth doubles.
“It means so much. I’m happy with how hard this team has worked all season,” said Strogach, who is the lone player remaining from Commack’s 2018 county title. “From the first day of tryouts, our goal was to play tennis on June 18, in the Long Island Championship, and I’m really excited that we fulfilled that goal.”
Commack advances to play Nassau County champion Syosset in the Long Island Championship, set for Friday afternoon at Eisenhower Park.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.