Tennis is often a battle of attrition. In order to win, you have to fight through adversity and often times tough conditions to come through victorious.
That was the case on a brutally hot Sunday afternoon at Eisenhower Park where the top singles and doubles players competed in the final rounds of the Nassau County Boys’ Individual Championships.
“The heat was rough but being here with teammates, family, friends and coaches really got me through it,” said Hewlett sophomore Stephan Gershfeld. “The environment was amazing.”
Gershfeld captured the Nassau County singles title as he defeated Roslyn’s Mikey Weitz 6-2, 6-1 in the championship match. That victory came hours after Gershfeld downed Great Neck South’s Albert Hu 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals.
“This has been my dream. I’ve been playing high school tennis since seventh grade and I’ve always wanted to be a county champion,” said Gershfeld. “I had a lot of adrenaline coming into this tournament, and I was really motivated so it means a lot to me.”
Hewlett head coach Joyce Narciso-Raikos talked about Gershfeld’s prowess on the court, but also the impact he had on the Hewlett team.
“He’s a great kid with a great work ethic,” she said. “He showed up to practice and always gave it his all. He helped me a lot with our team, not only as a top singles player but also helping develop our doubles teams as well. In the first match, he came out tight. He was beating himself and missing shots he normally doesn’t. We went back to focusing on high percentage shots until he started feeling the ball again, and he was able to do that well.”
Hu finished in third-place in the final singles draw as Jericho’s Michael Safir was forced to withdraw before the match.
Roslyn's Mikey Weitz reached the county singles final
The Syosset senior duo of Brian Gao & Jeremy Levine claimed the doubles title by beating Ethan Solop & Gavin Koo of Roslyn 6-2, 6-2 in the finals. Despite not playing doubles together prior to this event, Gao & Levine used the chemistry they have developed over the years as the two have been on the Syosset team since they were seventh graders.
“It’s amazing,” said Levine. “And it’s a great feeling being able to do with my fellow co-captain.”
Syosset's Jeremy Levine & Brian Gao did not drop a set en route to winning the county doubles title
In regards to battling through the heat on a long day, Gao added:
“I cramp very easily, and I drank like four bottles of Pedialyte throughout the day. I think the key was just remaining focused throughout the day. We were confident coming into the tournament and managed to pull through.”
After being without any season last spring due to the pandemic, the Syosset pair came out this year with added motivation and put it into action this past weekend.
“They have been our go-to leaders for two years now, and it started last year during the pandemic. They were on a mission this year, having not been able to play last year, and came into this tournament laser-focused. Even though there was a lengthy downtime in between matches, they knew what they needed to do to get themselves ready. They took everything in stride and made the best of the situation. I’m extremely proud of them.”
In the third-place doubles match, Hewlett’s Alexander Sherman and Benjamin Grushkovskiy defeated Great Neck North’s Damien Chafe & Luke Hakimian 7-5, 6-2.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.