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Cheng leads Syosset to LI tennis title

Syosset's Vivian Cheng hits a forehand during the

Syosset's Vivian Cheng hits a forehand during the Long Island girls tennis team championships against Half Hollow Hills East. (Nov. 15, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Syosset, led by Vivian Cheng, heated up the courts on a cold afternoon and captured its fourth consecutive Long Island championship, defeating Half Hollow Hills East, 7-0.

Both teams weathered frigid temperatures at the Smithtown West courts, but what concerned Syosset coach Larry Levane the most was an extended layoff from the team's last match. "I wasn't worried at all about the cold," he said. "We were off for three weeks though, so I was worried a little bit about the inactivity but we had a good couple of practices the last few days and the girls were ready."

The cold definitely bothered Rithika Reddy, who needed two tiebreakers to knock off Allison Huber in their second singles match. "My whole body was numb for the first set, but then I eventually got used to it," she said.

Cheng, who defeated Vanessa Scott, 6-1, 6-3, in first singles, exemplified the dominance by Syosset (17-0). The senior lefthander mixed her power with soft, well-placed shots that just landed within the lines and out of Scott's reach.

Despite the thorough victory, Cheng didn't feel she was at the top of her game, citing a slight illness, the cold weather, and a good opponent. "I didn't feel that on," Cheng said. "I wasn't one hundred percent and I felt a little sick but that isn't any excuse for me to play badly. She played really well and also the cold slowed me down a little so I just had to force myself to move my feet."

Cheng won her first championship with Syosset as a freshman and did not play her sophomore and junior years. According to Cheng, winning the Long Island championship as a senior has a completely different feel. "This is my last match ever in high school, so it's so great that I got to win."

Levane credited hot starts in all seven matches for Syosset's ability to sweep Hills East (17-1), which has not lost to a Suffolk County opponent in two years.

"We jumped out early and when you're up a whole bunch of sets in each match it makes it easier to keep the momentum growing," Levane said. "I knew we had a great chance at winning this but I was pleasantly surprised to take every match."

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