Edward Liao had just gone up 5-love in the first set. He walked by the side of the net on the first singles court at Casamento Park and took a seat and had a drink in the 90-degree heat. And he gazed down at his teammates on the next six courts and yelled, “Let’s go Commack!”
It was a phrase the standout sophomore repeated from time to time, saying later, “I feel like trying to hype up our team’s emotions is just great. I just love doing it.”
The second-seeded Cougars didn’t look like they needed much encouragement on this day. They lived up to the hype on the blazing courts and defeated No. 1 Ward Melville, 6-1, Tuesday in Bay Shore to win the Suffolk large schools team championship for boys tennis.
“Our effort today was fantastic, especially given how hot it was,” Commack coach Jimmy Delevante said after his team improved to 20-0 and 73-4 overall with three county titles in the four seasons since he took over. “ . . . Definitely the most difficult conditions we’ve had to play in all season.”
The tournament was split this season into competitions for large and small schools. But this was really a repeat for the Cougars, who also beat Ward Melville, 6-1, for the overall title in 2021.
They lost their next match, the Long Island championship against Syosset. They will get another shot at an Island crown Monday against Roslyn again at Casamento.
“I think we can do it,” Liao said. “I think we’re a much stronger team than last year.”
Liao, the two-time Suffolk individual singles champ, won his match, 6-0, 6-0. Teammates James Yu, Matt Strogach and Eric Benderly also won in singles. The Commack doubles teams of Avi Gupta and Matt Schwartz and Saharsh Peddireddy and Jeffrey Behar also took victories.
Aron Bursztyn and Ethan Timm won at first doubles for Ward Melville, which finished 19-1.
“Unbelievable season for us going undefeated up until the championships,” Patriots coach Erick Sussin said. “We accomplished our goals. We knew we’d be back here.”