Pressure. Some athletes run from it, some embrace it.
For seventh-grader Drew Hassenbein, it’s the latter. As his Roslyn team moved to within one victory of the Nassau County Large School title, the entire crowd of spectators gathered by the singles courts, where he and teammate Ethan Solop were still playing their respective matches.
“I love my team, I love the crowd, even the Syosset crowd,” said Hassenbein. “I love everything about it.”
Thriving off of that, Hassenbein clinched the county title for Roslyn with a 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 win over Syosset’s Ansh Chadha.
Soon after, Solop completed his 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4 second singles win over Devin Melandro to finalize Roslyn’s 5-2 victory.
“Drew eats pressure for breakfast, and Ethan never gets too worried, which gives you confidence as a coach,” said Roslyn head coach Kerri Jannotte-Hinkley. “They use their experience to say, ‘I know what this feels like’, and it gets them through whatever they need to go through.”
“I thought it was really special, especially in my first year,” Hassenbein added about clinching the title for his team. “I feel like we really deserved this with all the hard work and practice we put in.”
In a rematch of last year’s championship, it was Syosset who got on the board first, as Evan Lee defeated Roslyn’s Justin Sherman 6-3, 6-0. Roslyn would then win the next two flights, a 6-2, 6-4 win by Gavin Koo & Matthew Stone at first doubles, and a 7-6(4), 6-0 victory from Zachary Sheena at fourth singles.
Koo, who normally played third singles throughout the season, teamed up with Stone for the first time, and the pairing delivered a crucial victory at first doubles.
"We practiced a little before this, but we both have a very adaptable play style, so it just came naturally for us," said Koo. "In doubles you always have to rely on your partner and rely on trust. We’re a family on and off the court, so we just translated that, worked hard, trained every day, and we won.”
After Syosset grabbed the third doubles point thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 triumph by Aayan Mehta & Ryan Jiang, Roslyn’s Cayden Shen & Bartek Dziedziach notched a 7-5, 6-4 victory at second doubles. Roslyn then heald a 3-2 lead with only the first singles and second singles courts remaining.
Hassenbein and Solop delivered victories to finish out the scoring, and the top-seeded Bulldogs were crowned Nassau County champions.
“Teamwork,” Janotte-Hinkley said when asked the key to her team’s success. “It absolutely comes down to our young guys, we have five middle school guys melding and blending in with the other guys who have a bit more experience. It's all about trust. It’s not always smooth, it’s not always easy, but families never are. We’re a big, dysfunctional tennis family, but it works.”
Roslyn now advances to the Long Island Large School Championship which is set for June 6 at Casamento Park in Bay Shore. The Bulldogs will face the winner between Ward Melville and Commack, who play in the Suffolk County title match on May 31.
“We’re going to celebrate this one,” added Stone. “But we’ll be ready for June 6, and we’ll play as a family.”
Scenes from the 2022 Nassau County Large School Championship
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.