The Port Washington girls tennis team started the season as a young and inexperienced group.
The squad is now within striking distance of ending it with a county title.
The Vikings won the Nassau I championship and head into the county playoffs as the number one seed looking to build on a 13-match winning streak. They open the playoffs on Monday, when they will host No. 9 Hewlett in the county quarterfinals.
“It’s so great to be a part of this amazing team,” junior Brittany Polevikov said. “Every team in the conference has great players but what sets our team apart is that we have so much depth.”
“This team is an amazing group of girls,” coach Shane Helfner said. “They’ve had their eyes on a county championship and winning the conference is a huge step forward. The girls are so hungry and want to get better. After every match, they’ve gained more and more confidence.”
The thought of an even more improved Vikings team has to be a scary one for the rest of the county, as Port Washington has seven shutout wins in 14 matches in Nassau’s most competitive conference. The Vikings lost their opener to preseason favorite Great Neck North before beginning their streak, which has seen them drop multiple points just twice.
Yet it is also not hard to envision the team’s continued improvement, considering its top two singles players are middle schoolers who had never played varsity tennis before this year.
Seventh-grader Thea Radman has gone 11-3 and eighth-grader Martine McGowan is 12-1 at second singles.
“Thea has been awesome. She has no fear and is a real competitor,” Helfner said. “Martine is so fun to watch because she is so graceful on the court.”
“It’s a very interesting dynamic,” Polevikov said. “We have some younger girls and they look up to the upperclassmen but we learn from them, too.” She added that seeing Radman and McGowan not back down against bigger and older opposition “is really inspiring to watch.”
Polevikov herself is half of the Vikings’ first doubles pairing alongside partner Sofia Walzer.
“From the beginning of this year, it really clicked,” Polevikov said of the partnership. “We knew we had to keep working but from the get-go, we had a desire to play together and it’s really blossomed into something. It’s great to have her by my side.
“Really, everyone supports each other,” she added. “It’s such a nice feeling to have a sense of camaraderie. It’ll be so exciting to see what we can do in the playoffs.”