Commack's Eddie Liao returns the backhand volley against Haborfields' Chris...

Commack's Eddie Liao returns the backhand volley against Haborfields' Chris Qi in the Suffolk boys tennis singles championship on Monday at Smithtown East. Credit: George A Faella

This season of the Eddie Liao show ended the same as the last - with a county championship.

The Commack sophomore entered the Suffolk boys tennis individual championships as the top seeded singles player and he performed like one.

In a rematch from last year’s championship, Liao defeated No. 2 Christopher Qi of Harborfields 6-1, 6-3 in the final to claim his second straight Suffolk individual title Monday at Smithtown East High School.

“I really wanted to win this title again,” Liao said. “I’ve always loved playing high school tennis and being out here with my friends and teammates.”

Whether it was his untouchable serve, his tough forehands or his backhands, Liao earned points every which way from the start of the match. And with each point, his self-encouraging cheers got a little louder.

“Letting out your emotions on the court just feels amazing,” Liao said.

Liao is now 15-0 on the season and hasn’t lost a match since the start of last season. He will head to the NYSPHSAA tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center starting on June 2, with a chance to win the whole thing.

“Winning a state title would be a dream,” Liao said.

“I think he’s one of the top kids in the draw,” coach Jimmy Delevante said. “With his serve, forehand and the focus he brings to the table, he definitely has a chance to win the tournament.”

In the doubles championship match, Ward Melville’s second-seeded duo of Aron Bursztyn and Shashank Pennabadi defeated top seeded Matt Strogach and James Yu of Commack 7-6, 6-2.

Bursztyn and Pennabadi took an early two-game lead in the first set, but Strogach and Yu quickly took a 5-3 lead.

After evening the score, the Ward Melville duo again found themselves down in the tiebreaker, but managed to win it 7-5 to take the critical first set.

“We just kept the momentum going in the second set,” Bursztyn said.

Pennabadi’s racket had some strings break early on and he used one of Bursztyn’s rackets for the rest of the match. “It was definitely different, but I got used to it,” said Pennabadi, a freshman.

Bursztyn’s younger brother, Gabe, won the title as a freshman last year with Matthew Kronenberg. “It’s great to carry on the family legacy,” said Bursztyn, a senior. “I’m hoping that when I’m gone, he’ll keep it going for the next two years.”

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