| By Brian Coleman
Eli Grossman and Preet Rajpal celebrate after clinching the Nassau County doubles title for a second straight year.

 

For the second straight year, the title of Nassau County Doubles Champion belongs to Syosset’s Preet Rajpal and Eli Grossman. The senior duo defended their county title with a 7-6(3), 6-2 over Friends Academy’s Alexander Roti and Samir Singh on a long and hot Sunday afternoon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y.

“It’s pretty surreal. Preet’s been my best friend now for a couple of years, and we started off as rivals in eighth grade. And here we are,” said Grossman. “I’m sure in a couple of months I’ll look back and realize how special this run was. But right now, it still hasn’t set in.”

The tournament began the weekend before, but a long week of rain delayed the conclusion of the draw until this past weekend. Grossman and Rajpal did not let the constant delays and the long periods of waiting around effect their play though.

“It was really challenging,” Grossman said. “Especially just trying to focus in between matches. We had a long wait today after the semifinals. We made sure we hit consistently, and kept watching and talking about the tennis. I stayed off my phone throughout the day and we just tried to remained focus on the tennis.”

The pair had to wait around after their semifinal win over Plainview’s Nicholas DeChiaro and Sean Cohen, as the other semifinal went the full three-sets, with Roti and Singh outlasting the Syosset duo of Zach Chan and Justin Oresky 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

In the final, the first set was extremely close as the two teams exchanged early breaks, and the set would eventually head into a decisive tiebreak. Grossman and Rajpal outplayed Singh and Roti in the tiebreak, and then began to pull away in the second set for the straight-set victory.

“I think the fact that they played a grueling three-set match right before the final, they started to get tired in that second set,” said Grossman.

 

Rajpal added:

“I think we were mentally tougher from the first ball to the last ball. We weren’t going to get pushed over; we were going to dictate points. We knew that if we stuck to our game plan there was nothing that could stop us.”

The back-to-back county champions wrap up a fantastic career in Nassau County play. Both have been competing for Syosset’s varsity team for the last five years, coming through the ranks together before being named co-captains ahead of this season.

“I would not have gone on this journey with anyone else,” Rajpal said.

Syosset head coach Shai Fisher has watched his two players grow up and develop over the last five years, and has seen first-hand their chemistry and how it has led to their success.

“It’s amazing watching them play together,” said Fisher. “After every point they are constantly communicating, from assessing strengths and weaknesses of each opponent, to strategizing, to going over positioning on court, to discussing shot selection, even the weather elements.   They truly understand how to play the game of doubles and from a coaches perspective you really appreciate watching them play.”

 

The duo now looks ahead to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) tournament, where they have a good chance of being named the draw’s top-seed. Roti and Singh also qualify for the state tournament by finishing up as county runner-ups, and Chan and Oresky booked their spot in at states with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over DeChiaro and Cohen in the third-place match.


Scenes from the Nassau County Doubles Semifinals and Finals 

 

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com