| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff


Staring down a 1-3 deficit with only three matches remaining in the Nassau County Girls Large School Championship, the Port Washington Vikings had no margin for error.

And one-by-one, Port Washington worked its way back into the match.

First, Katie Kors & Grace Ain hung on to win 6-2, 7-5 at first doubles to keep the Vikings’ county championship hopes alive, leaving just two courts remaining. And so the array of fans and spectators in attendance gathered by the second singles and third singles courts with the county title hanging in the balance.

It would be up to senior Ellie Ross at second singles, and eighth-grader Evie Loewy at third singles.

“Hearing everyone cheering on the sideline was definitely motivating, especially when it came down to Evie and I,” said Ross. “I knew the pressure that we both needed to win our matches, but I tried not to think about that and just stay consistent.”

Ross would hang on after a long second set to win 6-3, 7-5, and tie up the overall team match at 3-3.

Loewy had dropped the opening set in her match, but from the second set on she was in control. She claimed the second set 6-1, and built a commanding lead in the deciding third set, and led 5-0 as all eyes turned to her court.

“I had a big lead in the set which helped, but I just wanted to come through for my team,” she said.

And Loewy did just that, closing out the match in the next game, winning at third singles and clinching the Nassau County title for Port Washington.

“She’s an eighth grader, and the maturity she has shown from last year to this year is tremendous,” said Port Washington head coach Shane Helfner. “Any other middle schooler would have been rattled by the moment, but when I talked to her on changeovers she was composed and smiling, and stayed locked in on court.”

The Vikings are a veteran-led team filled with eighth seniors, all of whom wanted to make sure they ended their high school careers with a county title.

“I’m at a loss for words, I wanted this for them so badly,” Helfner added. “We have eight seniors who have worked so hard over the years to keep the program where it is, and they deserved to go out with a county title in their senior year. Coming back from last year we talked a lot about mental toughness and trying to be strong in that area. The girls really dug down deep and found a way to get to the finish line.”

Dasha Perfiliev, one of those eight seniors, got the Vikings scoring started with her 6-4, 6-3 win at first singles earlier in the afternoon.

“Our team worked so hard all year, and I’m so glad we put our talents together and pulled through,” she said. “It’s been a long three years [since we last won a county title], and I’m so proud of the whole team.”

Port Washington advances to the Long Island Large School Championship where it face the Suffolk champion, either top-seed Harborfields or second-seeded Hills East, on Tuesday, November 1 at Casamento Park in Bay Shore.