It might have been Halloween weekend but the top Nassau girls tennis players came back from this weekend's state tournament in Latham with a lot more than just candy.
For the first time since 1989, they captured both the singles and doubles state championships, according to county coordinator Shai Fisher. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky of Oyster Bay and Kseniya Zonova of Hewlett walked away victorious. The spotlight was on Matute and Kowalsky all season.
The top-seeded and defending state doubles champions felt the heat but never wavered, culminating in a 6-3, 6-1 win over third-seeded Laina Campos and Vanessa Ciano of Ursuline (New Rochelle).
"We were definitely more confident coming in this year as the defending champs," Matute said. "But there was a lot more pressure that came with it."
It certainly didn't affect them on the court. The duo marched through the county and state tournaments, winning nine matches and dropping just 21 games along the way. No team took more than four games from them in any set.
"It was really important for us and really cool to not lose a set," Matute said. "We worked hard all season to try and be our best."
They're the first Nassau doubles team to repeat since Amy Chen and Alexandra Kobishyn of Lynbrook in 1998 and 1999, according to Fisher.
"It wasn't easy -- the scores might have looked easy -- but all the matches we played we're tough," Kowalsky said. "We just wanted to stay focused."
Both cited the first set of the championship match as their most difficult.
"We didn't know what to expect and they came out strong," Matute said. "I think after the first three games, we realized that it would be a little easier from there."
Top-seeded Zonova joined Kowalsky and Matute on the podium by defeating No. 2 Sydney Kaplan of Suffern, 6-3, 6-2.
She had to battle back after dropping the first set in her round-of-16 match but didn't drop a set the rest of the way.
Merri-Kelly Hannity of Cold Spring Harbor finished third and Amanda Foo and Lia Frankis of Manhasset finished third in the doubles draw.
"We knew that we had the depth and we were very strong and we had to go out and prove it," Fisher said of Nassau. "And that's what they did the entire tournament."
Suffolk had a strong showing, as well, with Half Hollow Hills East's Stephanie Chikvashvili and Commack's Kimberly Liao each reaching the quarterfinals.