As Amanda Huang walked to the service line following the changeover, she remained calm and tried to focus as best as she could on the task at hand. With the Nassau County Large School Team Championship tied at 3-3, only one court remained, and Huang and fourth doubles partner Abby Glenn held a 5-4 lead in the deciding third set of their match.
“I just wanted to ace every single point, but it was all about focusing on what I needed to do,” said Huang. “I knew getting the toss right was important and would start off my serves well. It was just about maintaining my composure and staying focused.”
And Huang did just that, confidently firing up her serves, which included a couple of service winners, to clinch the fourth doubles victory 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4, sealing Syosset’s third county title in the last four years in the process.
After coming back from 2-5 down and saving a match point in the second set, Huang and Glenn fell behind 0-4 in the final set as Chloe Fanous & Yasmeen Munoz raced out to the early lead. But Huang and Glenn had been in this type of position before, and had multiple comeback wins throughout the season.
“They’ve been amazing all year,” said Syosset head coach Shai Fisher. “They have a never give up mentality, and they had been down this year before. Even sets when they are down 1-4, or 2-5, they just have a knack for turning it around. They play extremely well under pressure.”
That was necessary as the pressure was palpable as the entire crowd of spectators, including both teams, had gathered by the fourth doubles court. Each point resulted in cheers from one of the side’s supporters as the tension continued to rise.
“It definitely helped us out,” said Glenn. “It was so fun, and the cheering really carried us. We took it point by point, and never counted ourselves out.”
The fourth doubles match was the final one of an extremely competitive and well-played afternoon by both teams. The scoring started off in favor of the Braves as Mia Silverman & Manami Wakazono notched a 6-3, 6-3 at third doubles. Soon after, Syosset stretched its lead to 2-0 as Zia Mukherjee won 6-1, 6-3 at third singles.
But Port Washington would respond thanks to first and second singles victories from Dasha Perfiliev and Ellie Ross, respectively, and a 6-4, 7-6(2) win by Gaby Sorin & Grace Ain at second doubles, to take the overall lead 3-2, and put them one match away from the title.
Rachel Lin & Alex Ho knotted things up again for Syosset by way of a 7-6(3), 6-3 first doubles victory, resulting in the county championship coming down to the fourth doubles court.
“It was hard being down, but we never doubted that them,” senior co-captain Alexa Brecher said of Huang and Glenn. “We knew they would pull through like they did all season.”
Syosset now advances to the Long Island Championship on Wednesday, November 3, where it faces the Suffolk County Large School Champion.
“This one is definitely a little more emotional than last year, because it is our last year. It’s a good way to say good bye, but it’s emotional,” said Ho, Brecher’s fellow co-captain. “We’re very confident heading into the Long Island Championship. We know how good of a team we have, and the amount of adversity we faced and the resilience we showed throughout the year.”
“I give all the credit to the girls. They sacrifice so much, and work so hard both in season and in the preseason. Our depth, and the improvement they show year-to-year, is a testament to all the work they put in. The girls didn’t get to compete for a Long Island championship last year, so I’m happy for them to have this opportunity.”
For Port Washington, the loss was a difficult way to end the season, but one that will provide adding motivation entering the 2022 season.
"I am extremely proud of our girls for the fight they played with throughout the season. The championship was obviously a devastating and heartbreaking loss. Syosset is a great team. Our girls gave us a chance to win which is all I could ever ask of them,” said Port Washington head coach Shane Helfner. “I think our girls will use the success of this season and championship match as a spring board to be even more ready and hungrier for next year. We have a very positive and bright future going forward!”