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Rachel Arbitman guts out tough deciding match to lift Hewlett

Rachel Arbitman of Hewlett defeated Merri Kelly Hannity, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, at first singles to lead her team over host Cold Spring Harbor on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, at Cold Spring Harbor. (Credit: Newsday / Gene Morris)

They finished as the daylight was dwindling but Monday’s first singles match between the Hewlett and Cold Spring Harbor girls tennis teams had all the makings of a match that could be played again under the bright lights of the postseason final.

Defending state champion Rachel Arbitman defeated Merri Kelly Hannity, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, to clinch a 4-3 victory for Hewlett (5-2) over host Cold Spring Harbor (4-3) in a Nassau I match.

“You don’t see this level of play in high school tennis,” Hewlett coach Abby Samlin said. “It’s like college level, better than USTA. This is what it’s all about, two of the top players in the county battling every point and playing good, hard tennis.”

Hannity came out strong, breaking Arbitman’s first serve and jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first set before holding on for a 6-3 win.

The second set was a different story, as Arbitman regained her game, splitting the first two games before winning the final five to tie at match at one set a piece.

“I try to be really locked in and not think of any of the surroundings and just focus on my game when I’m down,” Arbitman said. “I try to analyze what I did wrong and adjust to the weaknesses of my opponents.”

Hannity once again took control of the match in the third set, breaking Arbitman twice early to go up 3-0.

“I realized I wasn’t moving my feet and sitting as low as I should,” Arbitman said. “She was hitting the ball really hard and I had trouble handling it. But once I was able to lock in and focus I realized what I had to do and it helped me come back.”

“We knew it was going to be tough and both of them were playing great,” Cold Spring Harbor coach Melissa McLees said. “We were just really excited about what was going to transpire between those two.”

Hewlett picked up its other victories at third singles, in which Nicole Pinkus defeated Serena Li, 6-2, 6-4; first doubles with Sophia Karmazin and Jenifer Perper defeating Elle Amoruso and Kelly O’Rourke, 6-0, 6-3; and second doubles with Nila Katsman and Chloe Mazo beating Allie Lynch and Hailey Schulsinger, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

It was extra special for Arbitman, who finally got to win the point that clinched her team a match.

“That was really cool because I’m usually I’m one of the first people done,” she said. “It was great to be able to do it for my team.”

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