Cold Spring Harbor's Josh Levine defeated both Half Hollow Hills...

Cold Spring Harbor's Josh Levine defeated both Half Hollow Hills Nolan Gelman and Stefan Ilic of Forest Hills. (June 4, 2010) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

With the sun and his opponent bearing down on Josh Levine - his shirt soaked with sweat, his face an unhealthy shade of red - the thought of playing a third set was as unwelcome as a warm jacket or a hot cup of coffee.

Having already beaten Half Hollow Hills West's Nolan Gelman, 6-2, 6-1, in the second round, Levine was serving for match point at 5-4 in the second set of the quarterfinals before Forest Hills' Stefan Ilic managed to rally and take a 6-3 lead after forcing a tiebreaker.

But the Cold Spring Harbor sophomore overcame the deficit Friday, capped by a two-handed backstroke that was returned wide by Ilic on match point. Levine avoided a dreaded third set, winning 6-4, 7-6 (7) at the NYSPHSAA Boys Tennis State Championships at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

"I was taking it one point at a time, just trying to fight back," Levine said. "It's definitely a big accomplishment for me and I'm happy to be where I am right now."

Levine advances to the semifinals, which begin at 8 a.m. Saturday.

In other action, Hills East eighth-grader Zain Ali saw his impressive season come to an end in the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-1 loss to second-seeded Quinton Vega of Beacon. Ali beat Oneonta's Riley Lorenz, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, in the second round.

Cold Spring Harbor's Eric Ambrosio couldn't counter the aggressive baseline play of his second-round opponent, Joe Raude of Cardozo, who won, 6-2, 6-2. Citing his lack of a put-away shot, Richard Sipala of the Ross School was defeated, 6-3, 6-3, by Eric Halpern of Blind Brook in the second round.

Long Beach's Eric Rubin and Matt Berry defeated Bethlehem's Brendan Jacques and Yufan Lin, 6-0, 6-2, in the second round and Scarsdale's David Goldberg and Jake Gorobetz, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Farmingdale's Ignacio Casali and Brendan Henry also advanced to the semifinals after defeating East Islip's Kevin Serina and Nick Bauer, 6-0, 6-1, followed by a 7-5, 6-2 win over Stuyvesant's Christopher Jou and Leon Pan.

Suffolk doubles champions Chris Hunter and Eric Bertuglia of Hills East fell in the second round after dropping a third-set tiebreaker to Brooklyn Tech's Jake Sosonkin and Mikolaj Borak, who won, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2). Also losing in the second round were Friends Academy's Jon DeFrancesch and Andrew Yaraghi, who were defeated, 6-4, 7-5, by Byram Hills' Kyle Rosen and Jordan Kaufman.

The tournament concludes Saturday with the semifinal and championship rounds. After eliminating Suffolk's best player and winning a thrilling tiebreaker, Levine will face his biggest challenge yet in top-seeded Jeremy Court of New Rochelle. "I just have to play to win and go through my shots," Levine said. "If I keep playing my best, I think I have a shot at winning this."

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