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Vivian Cheng leads Syosset to Nassau girls tennis title

Syosset senior Vivian Cheng returns a volley in

Syosset senior Vivian Cheng returns a volley in the first singles match during the Nassau County varsity girls' tennis team championship against Port Washington at the Wheatley School. She won her match 6-1, 6-0 en route to Syosset's 5-2 win. (Oct. 17, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Vivian Cheng last played varsity tennis three years ago as a freshman and played second singles for Syosset's county championship team.

After a two-year absence, Cheng returned to the team this season as a senior, and evidently not much had changed.

Cheng beat Lauren Livingston, 6-1, 6-0, in the clinching first singles match Wednesday to clinch Syosset's fourth consecutive Nassau championship, as the Braves topped Port Washington, 5-2, at Wheatley in a rematch of last year's county final.

"It feels good, especially being the clinching match," Cheng said. "I was surprised how excited I was before this match. I was a freshman before and I guess I didn't feel it as much but with this being my last year I was excited. It feels good to win."

Top-seeded Syosset took the first three matches to go ahead 3-0, putting Cheng in position to close out her match and the team title at the same time.

"What a great addition [Cheng] was," Syosset coach Larry Levane said. "Without her, I don't know if we would have been able to do what we've done . . . She's a great leader."

Syosset (16-0) swept all four doubles matches. At first doubles, Rhea Malhotra and Lexee Shapiro grinded out a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (5) win over Emma Brezel and Holly Hubsher. Paige Gindi and Joelle Porush beat Astrid Phillipson and Sarah Seeman, 6-1, 6-2 at second doubles, Kaitlin O'Rourke and Stacy Denbaum defeated Alex Larizadeh and Chloe Klug, 6-3, 6-4 at third doubles, and Sarah White and Jenna Poczik topped Amanda Rosenberg and Rebecca Schuab at fourth doubles, 6-1, 6-1.

The Braves went ahead 3-0 with the wins at second, third and fourth doubles, something Levane said was critical.

"We really focused and knew it was an important match and pulled through," Denbaum said of her third doubles match. "We had great communication and were consistent and we got our shots through."

Second-seeded Port Washington (12-4) won at second and third singles, as Ally Linder came from behind to beat Rithika Reddy, 3-6, 6-3, (12-10), and Liz Kallenberg fought off Katie Cirella 6-1, 6-7 (5), (10-7).Syosset awaits the winner of the Suffolk, and will play for its fourth consecutive Long Island championship on Oct. 30 at Smithtown East.

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