Ward Melville's girls badminton team poses with the championship plaque after...

Ward Melville's girls badminton team poses with the championship plaque after defeating Commack in the Suffolk finals, Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at Smithtown East High School. Credit: George A Faella

A smile emerged from Delaney Hart as her teammates bolted towards her after her win over Commack’s Victoria Wroblewski in first singles  clinched back-to-back girls Suffolk team badminton titles for Ward Melville on Tuesday at Smithtown East.

“Personally, since we finished second in Long Island last year, this was my goal.” Hart said. “To be that last push for my team to get us to the [Long Island Championship game] felt great.”

After  taking the first set 21-10, Hart went toe-to-toe in the second set with Wroblewski, who consistently kept the set within three points. Relying on her control of the court, extreme focus and unfazed composure, Hart eventually pulled away to win 21-18 and secure a 5-4 victory for her team.

“I knew my match was the deciding factor,” Hart said. “But when we’ve played other teams, I’m usually the only one left on the court so I’m used to the pressure.”

Ward Melville dominated singles play, taking second singles through fifth singles. However, Commack responded with similar dominance in all four doubles matches as the Commack duo of Ashley Park and Kailyn Huh defeated Ward Melville's McKenzie Heaney and Katie Specht 21-11, 21-16.

“This is what [Hart] plays for, she loves the challenge,” Ward Melville coach Shannon Sioss said. “To defend a title is always a hard thing because you have a target on your back, and I think [my girls] did it with class.”

Commack was also denied a championship title on the boys’ side as Half Hollow Hills defeated them 7-2 to also claim back-to-back boys Suffolk team county titles. Three of the nine matches went to three sets, all of which Half Hollow Hills won.

“Last time we played [Commack], we won a 5-4 match with them taking a few in three sets,” Half Hollow Hills coach William Davey said. “Our main focus today was to gut it out and we stole those three-set matches back.”

Rajveer Gujral, coming off an individual championship title last week, highlighted the three-set matches with a strong  effort in first singles over Commack’s Joon Choi, winning 21-16, 16-21, 20-10.

“I knew how to play him since this is my third time playing him,” Gujral said. “Making mid-game adjustments, my shot placement and returning some of his powerful smashes helped me pull out the win.

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