Kseniya Zonova had one thing on her mind as her cross-court backhand winner landed in to clinch the Nassau County individual championship.
"I was just thinking about my homework I have due tomorrow,'' the Hewlett junior said. "It's hard to be a student and tennis player.''
Zonova certainly has the tennis part down. She defeated Merri Kelly Hannity of Cold Spring Harbor, 6-2, 6-1, in Sunday's final at Eisenhower Park.
"It's hard to explain how it felt,'' Zonova said. "You just have to experience it.''
Zonova came to Hewlett from Ukraine last winter and connected with coach Abby Samlin. "I met her at back to school night,'' Samlin said, "and as soon as she said she played tennis, I knew I had a special player.''
Zonova and Hannity traded breaks to open the second set. Zonova led 3-1 before Hannity went up 30-0 with a chance for a break to get back on serve. Zonova rolled off four straight points to win the game and closed out the match with her next serve.
"I was pretty stressed because it was my first final in the counties,'' Zonova said. "I was just hoping to wait for her to make a mistake.''
Courtney Kowalsky and Celeste Matute of Oyster Bay didn't wait for anyone else to make a mistake. The defending state champions defeated Amanda Foo and Evangelia Frankis of Manhasset, 6-2, 6-0, in doubles.
"I didn't want to be overconfident and I was actually nervous,'' Kowalsky said. "Last year nobody knew about us, but this year everyone was ready for us.''
The duo lost only nine total games in five matches in the tournament. "I definitely felt more confident this year,'' Matute said. "But at the same time, there was more pressure because everyone expected us to win.''
They'll be defending their title Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in Latham. Sunday's other finalists and the consolation singles and doubles winners also will be going upstate.
Samantha Galu and Jiya Singh of Jericho won the consolation final, 6-4, 7-6 (2), over Port Washington's Emma Rosenberg and Sydney Levy. Wheatley's Ashley Lessen won the singles consolation over Alex Koniaev of Locust Valley, 6-2, 7-6 (7).
"I try to go match to match. I didn't want to think about the end result,'' Kowalsky said. "This is the year. We definitely want to go out with a win.''