Vivian Cheng: A champion's return

Syosset first singles player Vivian Cheng hits a

Syosset first singles player Vivian Cheng hits a forehand during the Long Island girls tennis team championships against Half Hollow Hills East. (Nov. 15, 2012) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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After Syosset produced the state individual singles champion and won its third straight Long Island title last season, senior Vivian Cheng knew she had to rejoin the school's varsity tennis team she left after her freshman season.

And it's a good thing she did.

Having taken off her sophomore and junior seasons (mostly to concetrate on school), Cheng became Syosset's second straight state singles champion, beating Nicholle Torres of Great Neck South in the final, 7-5, 6-1, on Nov. 5 in Latham. Soon after that, she led Syosset to its fourth consecutive Long Island championship.

"Right after my junior year I wanted to play, I was determined to win states,'' Cheng said. "I missed being on the team and I knew we'd be very good so I wanted to be on a team that would play for a title.''

One of Cheng's biggest motivations at the individual state tournament was trying to avenge her showing in the finals of the individual Nassau championships, where she lost to Garden City freshman Alexa Graham, 7-6 (1), 6-2. Graham earned the top seed at the state tournament. Cheng was No. 2

"It was great to redeem myself from counties and great that I got to come back and have a good tournament,'' Cheng said. "Not a lot of people get this chance to compete in the state tournament so it meant a lot to me. I was determined to win it.''

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Cheng compiled a 16-1 record at first singles in team play, leading Syosset through its second consecutive undefeated season. The Braves earned a 5-2 victory over Port Washington in the Nassau team championship, and a 7-0 win over Half Hollow Hills East in the Long Island team championship.

Cheng will play at Columbia University next fall.

"She's an excellent leader. The girls looked up to her and she was almost like a guaranteed point every time she went out,'' Syosset coach Larry Levane said. "She's dedicated, and I was just really happy she came out for the team this year.''

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