Shashank Pennabadi and Gabe Bursztyn from Ward Melville in the...

Shashank Pennabadi and Gabe Bursztyn from Ward Melville in the doubles semifinals of the NYSPHSAA boys tennis state championship at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Saturday, June 3, 2023. Credit: Louis Lanzano

Not a drop of rain fell beneath cloudy skies on Saturday at the USTA National Tennis Center. Even so, the quartet of Long Island doubles teams got drenched.

The Island had a team in all four morning quarterfinals — two from Nassau and two from Suffolk — and only top-seeded Ward Melville’s duo of Shashank Pennabadi and Gabe Bursztyn survived to make it into the semifinals. They got shown the exit there by fourth-seeded Jason Wei and Matthew Wallace of Horace Greeley, 6-4, 6-4.

The Horace Greeley team will meet a duo from Edgemont for the title. Pennabadi and Bursztyn will face a different duo from the same school, Adam Fink and Benjamin Singer, for third place. Fink and Singer reached the semifinal round after upsetting No. 3 Nikhil Shah and Devan Melandro of Syosset in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-3.

“Being the top seed meant a lot of pressure — we were supposed to win the tournament,” said Pennabadi, who teamed with Bursztyn’s older brother Aron to win the state title a year ago. “We just got outplayed a bit in this match.”

Pennabadi and Bursztyn struggled with their serve throughout the match. They had it broken by Wei and Wallace twice in the first set and three times in the second set. In the second set, they fell behind 2-5, but dug deep to get within 4-6. They were at deuce twice in the tenth game before the Horace Greeley tandem prevailed.

“I wasn’t as confident in my first serve as usual,” Bursztyn said. “We were able to get some breaks on them but they played the match a little bit better.”

The Patriots wanted to play an aggressive style with both players near the net to finish points, but weren’t able to do that often.

“They did a good job on a couple things . . . hit in the ball at the guy at the net and keeping us deep with shots to the baseline,” Bursztyn said.

Pennabadi and Bursztyn reached the semifinals with a hard-fought quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Jesse Goldstein and Mihir Kumar of Byram Hills, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Both of the Patriots had finishing shots at the net in the eleventh game of the second set when they broke serve for a 6-5 lead. In the quarters, Bursztyn was more effective with his serve and got winners on two of them in the final game.

“Winning that [11th] game took all their energy and we are able to finish,” Bursztyn said between matches. Added Pennabadi “we finished well at the net against [Byram Hills].”

The seventh-seeded Friends Academy team of Alistair Wright and Russell Notaris lost their quarterfinal to eventual finalist Elijah Johnson and Nicholas Peng of Edgemont, 6-4, 6-4. They rebounded to win in the consolation and will play Sunday for fifth place against Shah and Melandro of Syosset in a rematch of the Nassau County doubles championship.

Westhampton's Bobby Stabile and Giancarlo Volpe, the No. 5 seed, were overwhelmed in their quarterfinal by Wei and Wallace, 6-0, 6-2. They will appear in a match for seventh place on Sunday.

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