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Isabella Sha stars as Friends Academy takes LI Division II crown

The Friends Academy girls tennis team poses with

The Friends Academy girls tennis team poses with their championship plaques during the Long Island Division II girls tennis final on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, at Eisenhower Park. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Isabella Sha wasn’t sure she was going to play her junior season for the Friends Academy girls tennis team because of an injury.

But a week into the campaign she made her decision — she was going to rejoin the team and her impact was felt right away.

"Once she showed up everything started to mesh together," Friends Academy coach Owen Kassimir said.

And it’s continued that way since, as Friends Academy defeated Bayport-Blue Point on Monday at Eisenhower Park to win the first Long Island Division II championship. The Quakers advance to the state semifinals on Friday at the National Tennis Center in Queens.

"I’m super glad to be back, not only because of what we’ve won but just to be with my team," said Sha, who defeated Emilia Romano, 6-0, 6-1, at first singles. "That’s the driving factor that made me decide to play. Just being a part of the team and being able to bond again with the girls is amazing."

Sha also won the Nassau individual singles championship two weeks ago and reached the semifinals of the individual state tournament.

The Division II playoff format consisted of three singles and two doubles matches, different from the normal seven matches both counties play during the regular season. As a smaller school playing against larger competition in Nassau I during the regular season, the Quakers (4-10) had their depth tested but came out better for it in the postseason. Bayport-Blue Point finished 15-1, 4-1.

"We have some good competition during the regular season and I’m glad we moved up to Conference I because this is right where we should be," Kassimir said.

Friends Academy got their other wins from Skylar Cohen at second singles, Teah Login at third singles and Eva Sun and Erica Na at second doubles.

Kassimir said there is a chance that Friends will not have one of its starting players in the state tournament because of COVID-19 restrictions in New York City requiring all competitors to have at least one dose of the vaccination.

"She’s still undecided if she’s going to get the first shot," Kassimir said.

For the rest of the team that will definitely be there, Sha said the confidence level is high.

"We’re really happy to just get there," she said. "We know the competition will be really great."

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