Friends Academy senior Isabella Sha repeated as Nassau County singles champion, defeating Nicolette Loeffler of Cold Spring Harbor in a rematch of the 2021 county final.
“I definitely focused a lot of my energy into winning this, but I tried not to think about the pressure of defending it, and instead just went match-by-match,” said Sha. “We had some great competition here this weekend so I just needed to play my best.”
While she tried to avoid the pressure of being the defending champion, Sha began the championship match with a bit of nerves as Loeffler, who defeated Sha during the regular season matchup between Cold Spring Harbor and Friends Academy, raced out to an early 3-0 lead in the opening set.
But Sha made the necessary adjustments to turn the tide in the first set, and managed to win seven of the set’s final nine games to claim the opener 7-5.
“Isabella is a dream for a coach. She is a great player but she also listens very well and is always willing to change things up,” said Friends Academy head coach Owen Kassimir. “She says she is always talking to herself during the match and telling herself what adjustments to make, and we can reinforce those during the changeovers. After she went down 0-3, she did just that, stayed in the match and was able to prevail.”
Loeffler would begin the second set with a break of serve, but Sha halted any chance of a comeback by breaking right back, and rattling off the next few games to close out the match, and win her second consecutive county singles title 7-5, 6-1.
“I always look forward to playing against Nicolette, we’ve played a lot before both in practices and matches, and she’s a great player,” said Sha. “I didn’t perform my best earlier this season, and I’m glad I was able to shake that off and play my best today.”
Sha now prepares for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Championships, which run from October 27-29 at Sportime Schenectady, a tournament in which she finished in fourth place last year, and hoping for more this time around.
“It’s my last season, so I am going to go up there and play my game, and hope for the best.”
Joining Sha as Nassau County representatives at the state tournament will be Loeffler, as well as Garden City’s Nina Weise, who defeated Nyla Gershfeld of Hewlett 6-2, 6-2 in the third-place match.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.