Hewlett's Rachel Arbitman with the backhand return against Friends Academy's Isabella...

Hewlett's Rachel Arbitman with the backhand return against Friends Academy's Isabella Sha during the individual final at the Nassau girls tennis individual singles and doubles finals at Eisenhower Park on April 17. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan/Joseph D. Sullivan

Newsday Player of the Year: Rachel Arbitman, Hewlett, Sr.

After winning a state singles championship in 2018 and a state doubles title in 2019 there wasn’t much left for Rachel Arbitman to prove.

But she cherished the team atmosphere and the leadership role she held on the Hewlett team and came back for one more run. She ended it by defeating Friends Academy’s Isabella Sha, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0, to win her third Nassau singles title and fourth overall at Eisenhower Park on April 17.

Her coach, Abby Samlin, sung her praises after every win over the years but her impact was felt by more than just those around her day-to-day.

"She has high, high level character," Syosset girls tennis coach and Nassau coordinator Shai Fisher said after the county final. "You can talk about her tennis accomplishments all the time, which are basically unheard of, and the tennis speaks for itself, but her character to me is what really shines the brightest. She’s not only a superb athlete but a superb individual."

"It’s incredible the amount of championships that she’s won," Port Washington coach Shane Helfner said. "She’s always elevated her game. I’ve seen her have some nice battles with Thea [Rabman] and it’s just fun to watch. Every shot she makes is perfection and it’s fine tuned and she’s just such a poised player on the court. She’s confident and a competitor. It’s the perfect personality - she’s probably one of the best ever in Long Island tennis.  

Rose Hayes, Westhampton, Jr.

Kady left, and Emily Tannenbaum of Commack pose before a...

Kady left, and Emily Tannenbaum of Commack pose before a Suffolk League I tennis match against Half Hollow Hills West in Commack on April 5. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Hayes has been the top player in Suffolk since she was a freshman in 2018 and yet she continues to get better. She won her third Suffolk singles title by defeating Victoria Matos of Longwood, 6-3, 6-1, at Shoreham-Wading River High School on April 24.

She also has two state quarterfinal appearances to her name, and although the COVID-19 pandemic took away a chance to improve on that this year, she’ll be one of the top contenders for a state title in the fall.

Victoria Matos, Longwood, So.

A varsity player since she was in seventh grade, Matos had twice previously made the Suffolk quarterfinals before breaking through this season. Matos defeated Ward Melville’s Kira Kronenberg, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the final.

Isabella Sha, Friends Academy, So.

She put up a valiant effort against Arbitman in the county final before falling, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. She was the only player to take even a game from Arbitman in the tournament and only lost one game herself before the final.  

Emily Tannenbaum, Sr., and Kady Tannenbaum, Fr., Commack

The sisters have each had success as singles players the past few seasons, with Emily reaching the county final in 2018 and Kady in 2019. They decided to team together before Emily heads off to Navy and the results couldn’t have been better.

The duo didn’t drop a game on their way to the Suffolk doubles titles, defeating Westhampton sisters Julia and Kaitlyn Stabile in the final.

"It’s been a pleasure and an honor to coach players at this level," Commack coach Jackie Clark said after the final. "They have represented Commack incredibly and they did it with their game. They let their rackets do the talking."  

Ellie Ross, So., and Dasha Perfiliev, So., Port Washington

A season after placing third in the Nassau doubles tournament with partner Andrea Martinez and reaching the quarterfinals of the state tournament, Ross teamed with Perfiliev and won the Nassau title.

The pair defeated Alexa Brecher and Rachel Lin of Syosset, 6-2, 6-4, to capture the championship.

"These girls are two very big competitors and they’re always hungry to be the best they can be," Port Washington coach Shane Helfner said. "They always show that and it carries them to wins."