The stars aligned in Taylor Cosme's mind midway through the first set of the county singles final at Sunday's Nassau Individual Girls Tennis Championships.
The second-seeded Herricks junior had broken top-seeded senior Nicole Koskovolis of Manhasset in the first game and led 3-2, but found herself on the verge of being broken back, trailing 15-40. So she turned to her most reliable stroke, her unique lefthanded forehand, and used it to rally back on her way to a title.
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Cosme won the next four points to take a 4-2 lead, endured two deuces to break serve the next game and from there had all the confidence she needed in a 6-2, 6-4 victory to claim the Nassau singles crown at Eisenhower Park.
"That was a big confidence booster because it was really tight up to that point," Cosme said. "I just started smacking my forehand and hitting through the ball, and then that next break was also huge."
Cosme, Koskovolis and Alex Koniaev of Locust Valley all qualified for the state championships as the top three finishers at the county championships. Port Washington's Liz Kallenberg and Allie Linder won the doubles title with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Syosset's Katie Cirella and Rhea Malholtra, while Garden City's Brittany Burke and Hannah Eilbeck took third place to also qualify for the state championships, which will begin Nov. 2 in Latham.
In the second set of Cosme's singles final, she again broke Koskovolis early to take a 2-1 lead, and held serve the entire way to take the set 6-4. In the deciding game, Cosme featured two forehand winners -- a cross-court, sharp-angled shot for one and a passing shot with Koskovolis drawn to the net for the other.
"It was a tough match and the second set was even closer," Cosme said. "I'm still a little shocked that I actually won the counties. I'm really excited."
In the semifinal round Sunday, Cosme beat Koniaev, 6-2, 6-4. Koniaev then defeated Wheatley's Ashley Lessen, 6-3, 6-2, in the state qualifying third-place match.
For Kallenberg and Linder in doubles, winning county championships has become second nature. Kallenberg is a two-time badminton individual champion and has won the team badminton title twice with Port Washington. Friday, Kallenberg and Linder helped lead the Vikings to their first team title in girls tennis since 2008 with a 4-3 win over Manhasset.
"It's cool and really fun to win both the team and individuals," Kallenberg said. "It's like the icing on the cake."
In Sunday's semifinal round, the Port Washington pair beat Burke and Eilbeck, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, to reach the final. Burke and Eilbeck then beat Suzanne Silecchia and Nikki Huhulea of South Side in the state qualifying third-place match, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.