Hills West's Zenat Rashidzada wins Suffolk tennis title

Zenat Rashidzada of Half Hollow Hills West High Zenat Rashidzada of Half Hollow Hills West High School hits back to Aimee Manfredo of Shoreham-Wading River in their championship match. Rashidzada won in three sets. (Oct. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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Redemption was the theme of Monday's Suffolk girls individual tennis championships at Smithtown East.

Zenat Rashidzada of Half Hollow Hills West came from behind to win the singles title in three sets, having been the county runner-up last season, and Allison Huber and Amanda Luper of Hills East won the doubles title, after finishing third a year ago.

"It feels really good," Rashidzada said. "I wanted it [this year]. It's my last year, so it feels good to graduate strong."

After splitting the first two sets of the championship match against third-seeded sophomore Aimee Manfredo of Shoreham-Wading River, the top-seeded Rashidzada withstood long rallies and moved her opponent around the court to take a 5-1 lead in the third.

On match point, Rashidzada forced Manfredo to chase a ball to the back-right corner of the court, where Manfredo could get a only piece of it as she returned it short of the net, ending the match at 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"I started out a little bit nervous but later on, I got the hang of it and I was placing the balls and moving my opponent around and it was effective," Rashidzada said.

Rashidzada beat fifth-seeded senior Laura Torsiello of Bayport-Blue Point in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-1, to reach the championship match.

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In doubles, the top-seeded Huber and Luper both served well and set each other up for easy volleys at the net, including an authoritative overhead from Luper on match point that sealed the title against third-seeded Daniella Dunphy and Gillian Neubert of East Hampton, 6-0, 6-2.

"It was a good way to end the match," Luper, a senior, said. "Last year we were here and fighting for a spot at states but [this year] we got counties and it's great."

To reach the final, the Hills East pair defeated Christina Arniotes and Olivia Falhaber of Smithtown East, 6-1, 6-1, in a semifinal.

The singles and doubles finalists automatically qualify for the state championships.

Sarah Han and Dani Silber of Hills West beat Arniotes and Falhaber, 6-0, 7-5, in the doubles consolation match to earn a bid to the states, and Torsiello also earned a bid by edging seventh-grader Jackie Bukzin of Eastport-South Manor, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6 (2), in the singles consolation match.

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