When Merri Kelly Hannity made the decision to rejoin the Cold Spring Harbor girls tennis team, she did so with days like this in mind.
The senior completed one of her first goals Sunday morning at Eisenhower Park, defeating Port Washington’s Thea Rabman, 6-2, 2-6, 6-0, to capture the Nassau singles championship.
“I was going to come back last year but I decided I needed to focus more on my grades in the beginning of the year,” Hannity said. “But we decided then that I’d come back this year.”
Hannity last played for Cold Spring Harbor as a freshman in 2016. That year she also won the Nassau title and advanced to the semifinals at the state tournament.
“We knew this was going to be a tough season because there were so many top players returning in the county,” Cold Spring Harbor coach Melissa McLees said. “The focus was on winning another county title and moving on to win a state title, which is where our heads are now.”
Among those top returning players was Amy Delman of Great Neck North. She defeated North Shore’s Ava Scordo, 6-2, 6-1, in the singles consolation match and advances to the state tournament that begins Nov. 2 in Latham, along with Hannity and Rabman.
“Watching these head-to-head matchups during the season was like watching county finals,” McLees said. “We were very proud that [Hannity] always comes out focused and knows what she has to do.”
Hannity got off to a quick start in the final, taking the first three games before a Rabman rally cut her lead to 3-2. Hannity regained her form and won the final three games of the set.
The second set was a different story, as Rabman gained confidence and Hannity admitted she got a little worried.
“It was a little nerve wracking towards the end but once I got back into it the nerves started to go away,” she said.
There weren’t many moments to make Hewlett’s Rachel Arbitman nervous Sunday.
The defending state singles champion decided to take up a new challenge and entered the doubles tournament with teammate Nyla Gershfeld.
“After I won last year I kind of knew that I wanted to try and win a doubles title as well,” Arbitman said. “It was definitely something I knew for a while.”
Arbitman and Gershfeld defeated Wheatley sisters Kaya and Kavina Amin, 6-1, 6-2, in the final.
“We didn’t get to play much together, we were really only able to practice for a few days before this,” Gershfeld said. “Since we’ve both played doubles before and have that experience it just kind of clicked.”
No player in the state has won consecutive state titles with one each in singles and doubles since Jennifer Kelner of Hauppauge in 2007 and 2008, according to the NYSPHSAA website.
Andrea Martinez de Los Rios and Ellie Ross of Port Washington and Great Neck North’s Alyssa Ghassabian and Alina Lyakhov were the other doubles semifinalists and will represent Nassau at the state tournament.