| By Bobby Colton

The Saturday morning girls high school tennis showdown between Syosset High School and Port Washington High School, the two schools that have won each of the last three Long Island Championships was a close one the entire way and truly lived up to expectations. Syosset has been gearing up all year towards a run at back to back Long Island Championships, a feeling Port Washington’s coach Stan Makover knows well.

“We’re giving it a good fight. We have been Long Island Champions the last couple of years, but now its Syosset’s turn. Our turn will come (again),”  said Makover.

With just three returning seniors this year, Port Washington is in a full rebuilding mode, sporting a freshman as high as second singles in Elizabeth Kallenberg.

As the match got underway, it was clear Syosset’s main strength was once again their strong singles players.

First singles standout Hannah Camhi came away with another win after a hard fought match. Senior and second singles star Ashley Sandler cruised to another relatively easy victory at the expense of Liz Kallenberg. Rithika Reddy, the third singles player, also won, defeating Port Washington’s Emma Brezel.

After all the singles matches fell Syosset’s way, the doubles matches were the main battleground for the two former Long Island Champions.

First doubles was won by Port Washington in straight sets, but the finish of the second set was finished was a bit controversial. With both teams up at the net, Syosset’s team of Lisa Petruzillo & Jen Glukhman hit a shot that may or may not have bounced twice before it was returned. After a heated debate, the point was ruled in favor of Port Washington. Third doubles also went Port Washington’s way, after the Syosset pair was overmatched by the power play of Port Washington. This had Syosset with a 3-2 lead with two matches remaining.

Second doubles proved to be the hardest fought match of the day. Port Washington’s Holly Hubsher & Emily Bennet took the first set, but Syosset’s Natalie Nicholas & Alexa Sternschein quickly answered back by taking the second set. After grueling third set, Syosset’s pair finally put it away, taking the last set 6-4.

“It was a long, hard fought match, but we couldn’t get it in the end,” admitted Hubsher.

Fourth doubles proved to be another very good match. Port Washington’s Melina Rodriguez & Astrid Phillipson got off to a very quick start, going up 5-1 in the first set. From there on out, Syosset’s pair of Rhea Malhartra & Paige Gindi took control of the match, storming back to win the first set 7-6, before handily winning the second set, 6-2. After going down 5-1 early, Malhartra & Gindi won 12 of the last 15 games played.

While Syosset won this one 5-2, it was anything but a runaway for the reigning champs. Any of the four doubles matches could have gone Port Washington's way. When they meet next time in Port Washington, it promises to be another close bout between the two most recent Long Island Champions.

Bobby Colton

<p>Bobby Colton is a student at Syosset High School who covers the Long Island tennis scene. &nbsp;</p>