Yuval Solomon decided to play one more year of high school tennis so he could join an elite club. The Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK senior let nothing get in the way of his goal — not a midseason loss to Syosset’s Neel Rajesh nor a forearm that tightened up during his state semifinal match.
Solomon, who went 73-2 over his last three years, became only the seventh Nassau County boys tennis player to win multiple state championships by defeating Yorktown’s Sean Wei, 6-1, 6-2, on June 3.
“I was debating if I was going to play high school tennis at all,” Solomon said. “I knew I wanted to play just to get back to the final. I wanted to defend my title.”
Solomon also won the 2016 championship after falling in the 2015 title match.
“He made a home in the final,” Hawks coach Nick Ventimiglia said.
His new home will be in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he will play for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons, coached by Tony Breski, finished the 2017 season ranked second in the ITA poll.
The expectation is that Solomon will have a chance to contribute as a freshman.
“Yuval’s a super talented kid, tall lefty, which is hard to come by,” Breski said. “He has a great feel of the ball, lots of talent, and he has a ton of potential. I don’t think he’s as good as he’s going to be.”
Solomon said before his senior season that his ultimate goal is to play tennis professionally. He said he even considered launching his career this past year, rather than playing for his school, but the desire to win his second straight state title influenced his decision to put his professional days on hold.
“He has aspirations of playing pro tennis,” Breski said. “We like to think that’s a good fit for us here with some of the players we have and the tournaments we host. Pro tennis is a tough road, but Yuval has the talent and determination to do it.”
Ventimiglia agreed. In the last five years, he has seen Solomon blossom from a plucky eighth grader who reached the state doubles tournament to the masterful player he is today.
“You have to have it solid all the way through, and he’s developed that,” Ventimiglia said. “That’s as important as your forehand and your serve.”
No matter what happens at Wake Forest or on the professional circuit in years to come, one thing will never change: Solomon proved he was the best boys tennis player in New York two years in a row.
“It’ll definitely be cool to come back to the high school, see my name up there [on the gymnasium wall], see two-time state champ,” Solomon said. “That’s pretty cool. I enjoyed every minute of high school tennis. Coach Ventimiglia has been great to me. He’s been a great guy, been a great coach. It’s just been a pleasure playing.”