Matt Strogach had felt the elation of winning a Suffolk championship but also knew the sting of defeat after losing in the final.
The Commack junior is the only member from the 2018 team that won the Suffolk boys tennis championship and he was also a key figure on the team that fell just short the next year.
With that in the back of his mind from the beginning of this season, Strogach and his teammates knew they had to set their expectations high.
"We said our goal on the first day of tryouts was to be playing tennis on June 18 in the Long Island championship," he said.
They will be playing on June 18 because of what they did on June 17: A 6-1 win over No. 2 Ward Melville Thursday at Shoreham-Wading River High School, the top-seeded Cougars fulfilled that goal.
Strogach won 6-0, 7-6 at third singles over Shashank Pennabadi and Eddie Liao won 6-2, 6-1 over Aron Bursztyn at first singles. Joe Romito and Ryan Burke defeated Robbie Monticciolo and Ryan Wu, 7-5, 6-4, in the clinching match at second doubles for Commack.
"This is an entirely new team except for Matt," Commack coach Jimmy Delevante said. "He was the only kid on the team when we won it three years ago and we have a few back from two years ago when we lost in the final. Last year we would have loved the chance to make a run because we had a really good team but we still knew this was our year."
One of the noticeable improvements for Commack (17-0) was Liao at first singles.
"His decision-making and his athleticism and strength have improved so much," Delevante said. "His return game improved, his serve game improved tremendously and everything about what he did got a little bit better and then his fitness and his size contributed to it as well."
Liao also captured the Suffolk individual title last Saturday.
"I was really excited going into the season because of not being able to play last year," Liao said. "We lost our seniors and I thought our team might not be as good but I was totally wrong."
James Yu won at second singles, Eric Benderly won at fourth singles and Saharsh Peddireddy and Avi Gupta won at third doubles for the other Commack wins.
Commack will play Syosset in the Long Island championship Friday at Eisenhower Park.
"I don’t think Commack has ever had an undefeated regular season and through the county so we’re really excited," Delevante said. "These were the most polite, hardest-working kids I could ask for and they did all the work."