Coming into this season, there were some questions surrounding the Syosset Braves. With just three returning seniors in the starting lineup, and eight new starters to integrate into the lineup, the Braves had its work cut out for them.
And the Braves put in that work, and it resulted in a dominant campaign which led to an undefeated season, a Nassau County championship, and finally, a Long Island title after it defeated Commack 5-2 in the Long Island Championship at Eisenhower Park.
“I’m speechless,” said head coach Shai Fisher. “If you asked the captains before the season where we would be at this point in the season, I’m not sure they would say this. We knew we could be good, but the guys continued to improve throughout the year, and our leaders did a great job of bringing all the new guys along. All the credit goes to them, and it’s a testament to how hard they worked.”
One of those captains, senior co-captain Jeremy Levine, put Syosset ahead early in the Long Island title match as he notched a 6-0, 6-0 win at third singles. To bolster the Braves lead, Clay Jeon & Ryan Jiang won 6-1, 6-1 at fourth doubles to push the lead to 2-0.
Ryan Burke hits a running volley during he and Joe Romito's victory at second doubles in the Long Island championship
Commack would get on the board thanks to Joe Romito & Ryan Burke’s 6-3, 6-3 triumph on the second doubles court.
But Syosset began to pull away. Chris Vallone & Devin Melandro held on to win 6-1, 7-5 at first doubles, and needing one court to clinch the win, Dylan Apfel & Spencer Keschner delivered the goods with a 6-4, 6-3 win at third doubles.
Spencer Keschner & Dylan Apfel clinched both the county championship and the Long Island championship with their wins at third doubles
“This time we were definitely more aware of the situation,” said Apfel, referring to their clinching win the Nassau County championship.
“It’s crazy to come into the year and not even knowing if you are going to make the team, but then to become such a vital part of the team and a win like this. It’s just amazing.”
Commack’s Eddie Liao would win 6-3, 6-2 at first singles, and Brian Gao completed the scoring with a 6-4, 6-4 win at second singles for Syosset.
Commack freshman Eddie Liao, the Suffolk County singles champion, won at first singles for Commack
“I think this team just got along so well, and I don’t know if there is a specific reason for that,” said Gao, one of the other senior co-captains. “For me, this team is the closest one I’ve been on in my time here at Syosset. It’s been a great adventure. You could see from the first practice that everyone was buying in and we were developing that chemistry.”
Vallone, the third senior on the team, who contributed a big win at first doubles, added:
“We wanted to make the most out of this season, and I’m glad we were able to finish it off with a W.”
Syosset finishes the season at 15-0, and brings both county and Long Island hardware back home.
“A lot of credit goes to the Syosset community,” added Fisher. “We were afforded the ability to do intramurals back in December and January, and the guys took it upon themselves to put the work in, and the leadership welcomed everybody new into the team. That really set the tone from the beginning.”