As the sun went down the pressure began to rise.
All eyes were on Syosset’s Sarah Wong and Hewlett’s Nyla Gershfeld as they went back and forth in the second set of their third singles match that would decide the Nassau girls tennis team championship Monday afternoon at Eisenhower Park.
After taking the first set, 6-1, Wong outlasted Gershfeld in the second, winning the tiebreaker, 10-8, to clinch the county title for the second-seeded Braves, 4-3.
“I just tried to block out all the noise that I was hearing,” Wong said of spirited support by both teams after every point. “It was a lot of pressure to handle it all but I stayed calm. Even if I lost a point I tried to just move on to the next one.”
Gershfeld saved five match points in the last set before Wong was able to secure the win after a rally that lasted 64 shots.
“Sarah played probably her toughest opponent she’s played all year at this position,” Syosset coach Shai Fisher said. “She’s been our rock and she’s so resilient and fights for every point. Her fitness and conditioning is tremendous and you can see how much confidence she exudes on the court.”
Each point of the final set and tiebreak was tightly contested with neither player making any mistakes.
“Sarah was looking to hit those short-angle shots that she knew would pull her opponent off the court and she switched around the depth of the ball,” Fisher said. “She fought the entire time and was able to pull it out under tremendous pressure.”
Syosset (14-3) captured its other points at first, second and third doubles. No. 4 Hewlett (12-6) was led by first singles player Rachel Arbitman, who picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win for the first point of the match.
“It feels great to contribute a win in the county championship,” said Sarah Schwartz, who won with Ruth Abraham, 6-4, 6-2, at third doubles. “Our team has worked so hard.”
Syosset will play in the Long Island championship later this week against an opponent to be determined.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Wong said. “We haven’t won or been in the finals in six years so this feels great.”