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Emily Haber propels Commack to Suffolk badminton championship

Haber defeated Sydni Berkenfeld, 13-10, 12-13, 11-6, at first singles to finish her high school career with a perfect record in team matches

Commack co-captains Emily Haber and Kim Colella pose

Commack co-captains Emily Haber and Kim Colella pose with the Suffolk badminton team finals championship plaque on Friday at Half Hollow Hills East High School. Photo Credit: George A. Faella

Commack girls badminton was already in the midst of one of Long Island sports’ more impressive runs of dominance.

On Friday, it became a dynasty.

Top-seeded Commack defeated No. 3 Half Hollow Hills, 6-3, Friday afternoon at Half Hollow Hills East to win its third straight county title and 56th match in a row. The champs were led by Emily Haber, who defeated Sydni Berkenfeld, 13-10, 12-13, 11-6, at first singles to finish her high school career with a perfect record in team matches.

“From the beginning of the season, we knew we had a target on our backs,” Haber said. “It feels good to continuously prove that it’s never been a fluke and we deserved and earned all the success we’ve had.”

“This is an awesome group of girls and they’ve worked hard all year,” coach Jesus Valdes said. “We’ve been counting down to this date. Getting here is one thing. Winning it is that much sweeter.”

Commack’s last loss came against Hills in the 2016 county championship, when Haber was a freshman and her own run was just beginning. To finish it, she had to withstand a tough test from Berkenfeld, who had won the county doubles championship early this month but was switched to singles Friday.

“That gave me extra motivation to go out there and work hard,” said Haber, who won a second straight singles county title during the individual tournament. “She’s a very good player and you could see that throughout the match. She kept me on my toes, so I was glad I was able to come out on top.”

Haber added that going undefeated for four seasons was a satisfying feeling. “It’s definitely something I can say that not many others can, but I wouldn’t have done without the support of my team,” she said. “They made me want to win it for them.”

Those teammates also did plenty of winning themselves. Carly Manchio and Jamie Bopp won at first doubles, 15-4, 15-4, and Kim Colella and Stephanie Sack won at second doubles, 15-6, 15-11, for Commack (18-0).

Jenna Lehrer (11-1, 6-11, 11-5) and Ariana Aghili (11-3, 11-2) won at fourth and fifth singles, respectively.

“Everyone wants a county championship, so we knew everyone wanted what we had, so we had to keep playing our best,” Colella said. “And that’s what we did.”

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