Syosset poses after winning  the Long Island boys tennis team...

Syosset poses after winning  the Long Island boys tennis team championship on June 3. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

“Keep the receipts!”

The phrase became the calling card for the Syosset boys tennis team about three weeks into this season.

The team had stumbled out of the gate in the defense of their 2023 state public school large school title with two losses in the first two weeks. The whispers on the players' social media platforms saying the team had lost its place among the elite in Nassau had grown from whispers to clearly audible.

And so this became the team's catchphrase as they collected screenshots and printouts from the doubters. The moment to be reimbursed arrived on June 7 at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center in Queens. 

After Syosset’s 7-0 semifinal rout of Section II champion Bethlehem, the team swept the quartet of doubles matches in the championship match against Section I’s Mamaroneck for a 4-2 victory and a second straight state crown.

Syosset (18-2) followed that earlier second loss with 14 straight victories to close the season.

“We’d been right there in those two losses and we decided we were done losing,” senior captain Spencer Keschner said. “We let our tennis do the talking the rest of the way and we kept the receipts.”

Syosset had to regroup from seeing its top two singles players depart, creating a jigsaw puzzle situation: all the pieces were there but how could they fit into place? Coach Shai Fisher estimated that nine different lineups were used in the first 11 matches until the team found the one that would return them to the top.

“We finally figured it out and everyone started jelling,” Fisher said.

The bus ride after the second loss — to a Roslyn team it would beat in a late-season meeting and again in the county final — was a pivotal moment as Keschner and senior Ryan Jiang addressed the team.

“We were better than we had been playing and enough was enough,” Keschner said. “We were upset and it showed at our next practice . . . and that’s how it stayed.”

“We had to get locked in,” Jiang said. “We couldn’t be like, 'We won the state last year, so relax.’ We had to bring our ‘A’ game every time.”

That moment made it even more special when Jiang and Aayan Mehta won the title-clinching match against Mamaroneck. They’d prevailed 9-7 in a first-set tiebreaker and then rode the emotion to win all six games in the second set.

Fisher thought it was important that Jiang get that after playing that role on the bus.

“Anytime leaders on the team speak up and feel it's necessary, it sends a message to the team,” he said, “and when other players on the team feel that same way, it carries extra even more weight.”

The chemistry that helps doubles teams excel has been a Syosset trademark and so it was again. The combos of Keschner and Jacob Prince, Vyed Trivedi and Terrence Moy and Shiv Chadha and Ansh Jolly helped Syosset go 12-0 at doubles in state tournament play and singles players Nikhil Shah and Devan Melandro teamed to win the Nassau individual doubles title.

“We are a team,” Fisher said. “We rely on everyone.”

And they have the receipts to prove it.

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