Early this season, the Port Washington boys tennis team found itself traveling down a bumpy road. A series of injuries, illnesses and inconsistent play left the Vikings looking up in the standings with only three wins in their first nine matches.
But as everyone came back and rounded into form things quickly began to change. Port Washington (13-6) entered the postseason as the fourth seed on a six-match winning streak.
The ride culminated with Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over Half Hollow Hills East (15-3) in the Long Island championship at The Hamlet in Commack.
“I knew we had the talent,” second singles Gabriele Brancatelli said. “We had a little bit of a rough patch early but once we got healthy and started playing our game it was just one-way traffic.”
Brancatelli, who reached the second round in the state tournament last season, defeated Dylan D’Agate, 6-0, 6-0.
“We haven’t won Nassau since 2000 and back then there was no Long Island championship,” Brancatelli said. “It’s amazing to make history and do stuff that hasn’t been done in so long. It’s an honor to know that when I come back to the school with my kids I’ll see our banner with our names.”
First singles Alex Karman helped Brancatelli set an early tone, winning 6-1, 6-0, over Ishan Varma.
“To be honest I didn’t see this coming,” Karman said. “I knew we would be contenders but I wasn’t sure we had it in us to beat both Roslyn and Syosset. We knew when we had a full roster we could beat anybody but there was still a little doubt looking at the past.”
Port Washington coach Shane Helfner cited an early May win at top seed Roslyn as the turning point in the Vikings' season.
“We knew we could end up playing them in the semifinals,” Helfner said. “That win really showed us that we could battle with everybody.”
And battle they did. The Vikings won rubber matches against both Roslyn and Syosset in the playoffs and came out and won four of the first five matches against Hills East Wednesday to secure the Long Island title.
Charlie Dash and Josh Rosen defeated Matt Andelsmen and Jesse Kanofsky, 7-5, 6-0, at second doubles and Rajen Parekh and Sam Schaub defeated Atreya Rawat and Jon Ladenheim, 6-2, 6-3, at third doubles for the Vikings' other wins.
“Our team realized that when we had everybody back we could be the best,” Helfner said. “I think we enjoyed that underdog mentality but we always came into every match knowing we could end up on top in the end.”