Devan Melandro was doing something new on Friday, playing singles for the first time this season. Dylan Apfel was doing something for the last time on Friday, competing in the final team tennis competition of his life.
Both players made the day one to remember for Syosset as it captured its first state boys team tennis large school championship at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.
There were three matches still going on in the best-of-seven and Syosset and Section I champion Scarsdale had each banked two victories when Apfel, a senior, and junior Spencer Keschner began their third-set tiebreaker against Ben Hyman and Hiroshi Hebner. They saw the Raiders cut their margin to a single point before rattling off three straight points for the 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) win.
A handful of minutes later, Melandro watched Sameer Kini’s bid for the baseline go long for complete a 6-0, 6-3 clinching victory in what became a 5-2 title-game triumph for Syosset (19-1) over Scarsdale (17-3).
Melandro immediately dropped his racket and held his hands out as though he was expecting something. It arrived less than a minute later as his Syosset teammates raced down from the gallery to ransack him in triumph.
“I felt like I was going back to my old groove,” said Melandro, who played singles last season. “I wasn’t in shape . . . . I thought I’d get it to this point for my team and I was glad I could get the clincher.”
Ansh Chadha won 6-3, 6-1 at first singles, Nicky Shah won 6-4, 6-1 at third singles and ); Ryan Jiang and Veyd Trivedi scored a 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 victory at third doubles to round out Syosset’s title-match triumphs.
In the morning semifinals, Syosset dismissed Section VI champion Williamsville East 7-0 while dropping a total of only 15 games in the seven matches.
“It takes a lot of work and dedication and commitment to win a state championship,” Syosset coach Shai Fisher said. “This is what they wanted from the beginning of the season and they made it happen. I couldn’t be prouder.”
The tandem of Apfel, a senior who will not play college tennis, and Keschner, a junior, have been playing together for parts of three season and posting a win in a hard-fought contest in the championship match was especially rewarding. Keschner said their ability to shake off losing the second set was that “it’s a partnership built on trust . . . and we trusted each other the final set.”
In 2021, the duo won clinching matches for Syosset in the Nassau County and Long Island championship matches, but Syosset didn’t get to play for a state title because the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. And they thought they could be in a similar position on Friday.
“We feed off the pressure,” Apfel said, “and when we heard people cheering for us, it was the best.”
Asked about the mindset for the third set, Keschner said “it’s his last last competitive match. Added Apfel: “I wasn’t losing this match.”
“It’s the picture-perfect ending for him,” Fisher said.
Friends Academy comes up one point short
Bronxville’s Jay Marshall and Alex Ladas warded off a match point in the second set and came back to beat Alistair Wright and Vedant Rawat of Friends Academy 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0 as the Broncos topped the Quakers 3-2 for the state boys team tennis small school title.
Section I champion Bronxville (19-3) usually rides singles wins to success and the Quakers (17-2) picked one off when Bryan Bin outlasted Jackson Fine, 6-4, 7-5, to draw Friends within 2-2. Zack Cohen and Danny Duke posted a straight-sets win at second doubles for the Quakers’ other title match win.
Friends Academy earn a convincing victory over Section V champion Wayne in the semifinals, posting a 5-0 victory while dropping a total of only four games.