For the second straight season, the Nassau County Girls’ Small School Championship came down to a battle between Cold Spring Harbor and Friends Academy.
And for what felt like the hundredth time, resulted in a first singles showdown between Nicolette Loeffler of Cold Spring Harbor, and Isabella Sha of Friends Academy. The top two players in the county faced off in each of the last two finals in the individual championships, and this time around, the team county championship was on the line.
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Through the first four flights of the county final, Cold Spring Harbor and Friends Academy were all tied up at two. Thus, all the fans and spectators gathered by the first singles court to watch Loeffler and Sha battle it out for the title.
“It was a lot of pressure,” said Loeffler. “I lost the first set and that was tough. But my whole mindset was just that I have to come back, and every point counts. I really tried to be more aggressive and go for some down-the-line shots, try to make her, and it worked out.”
After dropping the opening set, Loeffler responded with a win in the second set to force the decider. Both players struggled on serve to begin the third set with three straight breaks of serve, until Loeffler secured a key hold for a 3-1 lead. Both players continued to rip winners from the baseline in a tightly-contested match, and eventually it would come down to Loeffler serving for the match up 5-2.
The senior would calmly serve it out to seal the win, and clinch the county title for the Seahawks, completing the 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“Isabella is such a great player, it’s always an honor to player,” said Loeffler. “Losing to her twice in the county finals makes this one a little sweeter. To win a county championship with my team, it’s all I’ve wanted. My teammates are great, they are always with me, and the support from my coach is amazing. This is just great.”
Cold Spring Harbor head coach Melissa McLees added:
“I’m so proud of the way the girls fought all the way to the end. Every single one of them wanted this coming in and they brought it today. After we lost to Friends last year, we walked away feeling a bit defeated, but came into this season with a different mindset. We really came together as a team and it made all the difference in the world.”
In regards to the county final come down to Loeffler and Sha, McLees said:
“I’ve known Nicolette since seventh grade, and to watch her grow into the player and person she is today is just wonderful. I’m so happy for her, it felt like it was meant to come down to her match. To have the final be decided by them, who have been playing together since they were little, and are such good friends but also great competitors, it just felt right.”
Cold Spring Harbor’s other two victories came from Brooke Winthrop’s triumph at third singles, and a 6-2, 6-3 victory from the second doubles tandem of Veronika Walkin & Dylan Savarese. For Friends, Skylar Cohen won a three-set match at second singles, while Eva Sun & Sofia Schwarz were winners at first doubles.
The Seahawks will meet Bayport-Blue Point on Tuesday in the Long Island Small School Championship at Casamento Park in Bay Shore.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.