From left, doubles winners Devan Melandro and Nikhil Shah of...

From left, doubles winners Devan Melandro and Nikhil Shah of Syosset share the banner with individual champion Samarth Deepudass of Herricks at the Nassau boys tennis individual and doubles finals at Eisenhower Park on Sunday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The Syosset doubles team of Devan Melandro and Nikhil Shah had steered into trouble on Sunday when they looked up and realized everything looked awfully familiar. They were down a set in the title match of the Nassau County Individual Championships. The opponent was a sharp-shooting combo from Friends Academy. And the sun at Eisenhower Park had gotten hot.

Melandro and Shah saw all these same things a year earlier when they staged a comeback and won the county championship. They knew the road back started with mental toughness and they set out on it. It was more than an hour to reach the end of it, but when they got there they had crafted another great comeback.

The Syosset duo’s 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Russell Notaris and Bryan Bin of Friends gave them back-to-back county crowns and a strong chance for a top seeding at the NYSPHSAA individual championship that begins May 31 at the USTA National Tennis Center.

“I can’t believe we dug it out just like last year,” Melandro said. “I was the worst at the beginning (but) with us it’s always rags-to-riches.”

“We were just a point away here and there from the first set going our way,” Shah said. “The key was we didn’t let negativity seep in. Devan might say he wasn’t playing well, but I’ve seen him in a lot of three-setters and he always wins them.”

Samarth Deepudass of Herricks had his own little minefield to negotiate in the singles championship against Roslyn’s Ethan Solop en route to a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 victory and the county title. The top-seeded Solop dealt with leg cramps during the match after winning his semifinal in three sets against Manhasset’s Max Golubenko. The second-seeded Deepudass had to keep focus through a pair of medical pauses, a few disputes on line calls and losing a point when accused of throwing his racket.

However, he found a way to set that aside, took a strategy of making the hobbled Solop run for everything and held off a late comeback that had them at 3-3 in the final set to win.

“This was the goal in coming back for high school tennis this season – to win it here,” said Deepudass, who was a quarterfinalist last season. “I had my moments, but the key was to just keep hitting them back in to make him move. He gave me a run for my money at the end but I was able to tune out all the distractions.”

“My legs were gone but my arms are strong and as long as I could keep swinging I was going to compete,” Solop said. “Fully healthy, I’d have played better and gotten a different result,”

Melandro and Shah had more in the tank for the title match after a straight-sets semifinal win over Jairus Bo and Zakaria Ahmed. Notaris and Bin turned away a match point against Jericho’s Brian Berger and Anish Pylla before winning a semifinal. The Jericho tandem took third place with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Bo and Ahmed. The pairings from Syosset, Friends Academy and Jericho all qualified for the state tournament.

Deepudass, Solop and Golubenko all qualified for the state championships. Golubenko outlasted Aiden Patel of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 for third place and the last state tourney berth.


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