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Captains Preet Rajpal, Eli Grossman lead Syosset to LI tennis title

Syosset's Eli Grossman competes in the Long Island

Syosset's Eli Grossman competes in the Long Island boys tennis team final on Monday at Eisenhower Park. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Preet Rajpal and Eli Grossman knew that capping their senior years with anything short of a championship would be a disappointment.

Fresh off a weekend of playing doubles together — that ended in a quarterfinal of the state tournament for best singles and doubles teams — the co-captains helped their high school team pick up one final victory Monday as Syosset defeated Commack, 7-0 (three singles, four doubles), to capture the Long Island boys tennis championship at Eisenhower Park.

The Braves (15-1) have won both titles since the Long Island championship was brought back into existence in 2017.

“I remember in my eighth-grade year when we were fighting for that first county title and we lost and how the seniors acted and how they treated us,” said Grossman, who won, 6-3, 6-0, over Jake Stadok at third singles Monday. “It was a really great experience and we’ve tried to instill that this year.”

Syosset broke through with a Nassau crown in 2015 and has won each county championship since, to complement the two LI titles.

“We’ve been here for five years and have seen the ups and downs of the program,” Rajpal said. “To leave it with a mark that’s lasting really means a lot to us.”

Rajpal and partner Brian Gao defeated Commack’s (17-2) Alec Sydney and Ryan Schoenfeld, 6-4, 6-3, at first doubles.

“I’m really hoping that our younger players coming up see that we’re a team that expects to win,” Rajpal said. “We’re a team that demands excellence on and off the court. To come out and get a statement win and to keep sending kids to the state tournament who have success — that’s what we expect, it’s not what we strive for.”

The Braves got a boost from first singles player Danny Pellerito, a senior who joined the team after playing exclusively on the USTA circuit. Pellerito won his match, 6-0, 6-0, over Sol Yoon.

“This is the first time I’ve played high school tennis and the experience is so different from playing in the USTA when you’re focused on yourself,” Pellerito said. “I felt more of an obligation to the team to help in the best way possible to continue this streak.”

The championship streak continues and the senior group knows they leave it in good hands.

“I think we’ve really gotten that foundation and everyone understands that we’re about winning titles,” Grossman said. “I think I’m going to look back a year from now and say, ‘Wow, we won a lot and really did something for Syosset.’ ”

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