| By Brian Coleman

 

Heading into this season, Isabella Sha was motivated to get back to the Nassau County Individual Championships, and win one more match than she did last season. The Friends Academy junior, who lost in the county final in a three-set championship last season, did just that, as she defeated Nicolette Loeffler of Cold Spring Harbor 6-4, 6-1 at Eisenhower Park on Sunday. 

“This was my goal, just to get back to this point, and it feels great to be able to do it,” said Sha. “It definitely feels surreal. I was here last year and a lost a tough match, so to come out here against some great competition and win it feels great.”

Click Here to see photos from the opening rounds of the Nassau County Girls' Championships 

Sha and Loeffler battled hard in the opening set, with the two splitting breaks of serve in the early games, and the set would then remain on serve until Loeffler served to stay in it at 4-5. Sha was able to secure the break to take the opener 6-4, and seize control of the match.

Isabella Sha of Friends Academy is the 2021 Nassau County Girls' Singles Champion 

In the second set, Sha made a conscience effort to be consistent yet aggressive when the opportunity presented itself.

“She was really consistent,” said Sha. “So in the second, I tried to get one more ball back into the court than her, and then be aggressive. It worked out.”

Click Here to see more photos from the final rounds of the Nassau County Girls' Championships

Friends Academy head coach Owen Kassimir added:

“Isabella wasn’t moving as well as she normally does in that first set, so I just told her to go for her shots and try to move Nicolette around the court.”

Sha will now look to build on this victory when she heads to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Championships in Schenectady, an event that was cancelled last season due to the pandemic.

“I don’t have any expectations for states,” she said. “I’ve never been before, so I am just going to take it one match at a time and see what happens.”

Loeffler, in addition to third-place winner Nyla Gershfeld of Hewlett, and fourth-place winner Angel Walia of Herricks, also earned All-New York State honors.


Cold Spring Harbor's Nicolette Loeffler

In the doubles final, Port Washington’s Dasha Perfiliev & Ellie Ross were seeking to become the first doubles duo to repeat as Nassau County champions since Oyster Bay’s Courtney Kowalsky & Celeste Matute did so in 2014-2015.

Dasha Perfiliev & Ellie Ross celebrate after winning their second straight county doubles title

“We were definitely motivated to come back this year,” said Perfiliev. “We felt like we were expected to win, so we did feel some pressure but we tried to embrace it.”

After downing Eesha Kaushik & Alex Ho in the semifinals, Perfiliev & Ross squared off against Roslyn’s Anika Tolat & Ava Veneziano in the finals. Despite a long layoff in between their semifinal and the finals, the Port Washington pair won 6-1, 6-0 to claim the county title for a second straight season.

“They were playing two-back in the beginning, so we had to find a way to work around that,” said Ross. “We tried a lot of angled volleys and drop shots in the beginning to win some points early.”

Perfiliev added:

“Our game plan was to have Ellie at the baseline, and myself at net, and it was a formation that really worked for us. It was a strategy that worked, and we thought, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Port Washington head coach Shane Helfner has seen Perfiliev and Ross develop their games over the last several years, and echoed the sentiments of their in-game strategy.

“They both have a competitive spirit on the court and complement each other so well. Ellie is one of the most consistent players from the baseline I have ever coached and Dasha can finish with ease at the net and take over a court any day with her aggressiveness,” said Helfner. “They both don’t have weaknesses and so it’s hard to string points and games against them. They have both been a huge reason why our program has flourished over these last five years. I’m grateful they represent our program!”

Perfiliev and Ross will now look to parlay their county title into a state title, an opportunity they also missed out on due to the pandemic last season.

“I am extremely excited to be representing Port Washington and Nassau County at States this year,” said Perfiliev. “It was disappointing last year to qualify but not be able to go because of the pandemic. But I’m so ready to go this year and represent my school.”

“I remember participating my freshman year and had such a great time,” Ross added. “I am so glad that both Dasha and I are able to represent our school together, and I know we will be ready to go."

Below are the final results of All-State and All-County players from the 2021 Nassau County Girls’ Individual Championships.


Singles Tournament – (All NY State & All County Honors)

Champion – Isabella Sha – Friends Academy

Runner-up – Nicolette Loeffler – Cold Spring Harbor

3rd Place – Nyla Gershfeld – Hewlett

4th Place – Angel Walia – Herricks


From left to right: Angel Walia (Herricks), Nicolette Loeffler (Cold Spring Harbor), Nyla Gershfeld (Hewlett), Isabella Sha (Friends Academy)


All County Honors: (Quarterfinalists)

Zia Mukherjee – Syosset

Ava Scordo – North Shore

Alex Raikos – Mepham

Andrea Vases – Manhasset


Doubles Tournament – (All NY State & All County Honors) 

Champions – Darian Perfiliev & Ellie Ross – Port Washington

Runner-up – Anika Tolat & Ava Veneziano – Roslyn

3rd Place – Eesha Kaushik & Alex Ho – Syosset

4th Place – Alexa Brecher & Rachel Lin – Syosset


From left to right: Eesha Kaushik & Alex Ho (Syosset), Ava Veneziano & Anika Tolat (Roslyn), Ellie Ross & Dasha Perfiliev (Port Washington), Alexa Brecher & Rachel Lin (Syosset)


All County Honors: (Quarterfinalists)

Diane Durante & Evangelina Vases – Manhasset

Katie Kors & Phoebe Levitsky – Port Washington

Sara Gao & Olivia Tiegerman – Syosset

Mia Silverman & Manami Wakazono – Syosset


 

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com