The Syosset girls tennis team has a very unusual weapon to deploy in the first doubles team of Manami Wakazono and Sanam Mehta. The duo’s a proven winner after posting victories in every match during last season’s run to the Nassau County large school final. And they tend to confound opponents because both are lefthanded.
“You see it in the teams we play against — it can be confusing,” Mehta said.
Added Wakazono: “We are a good combination [because] she hits hard and I can volley.”
Wakazono and Mehta were at it again Wednesday as Syosset hosted Roslyn in a matchup of Nassau I unbeatens. They rolled to a 6-3, 6-2 win and Syosset emerged with a 6-1 triumph over the Bulldogs that gives it the look of a team standing between everyone else and county title.
“We’ve been a really strong program for a long time and this year’s group is deep and extremely competitive,” said senior Taylor Weinstock, who teamed with seventh grader Selena Wang for a 6-1, 6-4 win at third doubles. “I’d be scared to play us.”
Wakazono played righthanded growing up in Japan, but was coached to play lefty when she came to the United States four years ago. She has the unique ability to go lefty or righty on every shot, sometimes switching in the middle of a rally.
“What she can do is amazing,” Mehta said. “It took us a couple weeks to get a chemistry last season and now we work together really well. I like where we are. I like where our team is.”
Syosset (5-0) doesn’t beat foes with superstars. It drowns them with a top-to-bottom depth that could be hard for anyone in the county to equal. Only 40 minutes into Wednesday’s match, all four of Syosset’s doubles entries already had banked a set and put the Bulldogs on an uphill climb.
“The depth is a product of having every player compete against each other in our practices,” coach Shai Fisher said. “Years ago I had the top players only play each other at practice. But when those players are mixed in, everyone gets better. And this is one of the deepest teams we’ve had.”
Stephanie Marcheret won the final three games of a 6-1, 6-3 victory at second singles while dropping only a single point and Elaine Liu won 6-4, 6-4 at third singles for Syosset. Diya Verma and Julia Isham won at second doubles and Ava Weinstock and Manasi Pradhan won at fourth doubles, both in straight sets, for Syosset.
Anika Tolat of Roslyn (4-1) posted a 6-4, 6-2 win at first singles by using craftiness against the more powerful Zia Mukherjee. Tolat trailed 3-4 in the first set before unleashing an array of slices and drop shots to win the final three games and take the set.
“I stayed close enough to be in a position to win the first set with some good shots,” Tolat said. “I have to be crafty because I don’t hit the ball as hard as her.”