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Yuval Solomon impressively defends his state boys tennis title

Yuval Solomon is the 2017 NYSPHSAA boys tennis

Yuval Solomon is the 2017 NYSPHSAA boys tennis champion. The match was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Photo Credit: Errol Anderson

There was a time that Yuval Solomon contemplated training for college or pursuing a professional tennis career rather than leading the Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK varsity for another year.

But the thought of not defending his 2016 state championship continued to nag him. Ultimately, it was overwhelming, and Solomon chose to return with his sights set on becoming the seventh Nassau County boys tennis player to win multiple state titles.

Instead of wondering what could have been, Solomon knows what was — utter domination of the foes attempting to block his entry to that elite club.

The top-seeded senior, who is committed to play for national power Wake Forest, defeated No. 2 Sean Wei of Yorktown 6-1, 6-2 in the NYSPHSAA boys tennis championship final Saturday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

He also defeated Beacon’s Ethan Leon 6-1, 6-1 in the Federation final early in the afternoon.

“I definitely wanted to join that list of six greats from Nassau County,” said Solomon, referencing Cold Spring Harbor’s Josh Levine (2011-12), Jericho’s Cody Parr (2004-05), Wheatley’s Neil Edwab (1971-72), Westbury’s Joel Ross (1967-68), Great Neck North’s Peter Fishbach (1963-65) and Baldwin’s Karl Hendrick (1961-62). “I definitely wanted to defend my title.”

Like he did throughout the tournament, Solomon wore down his opponent quickly. Wei won three straight points just twice and two straight just five other times over the 15 games. Solomon’s serve was a constant force, producing 22 aces. He won five games 4-0, and closed the match with three straight aces to take the final game by that score.

Nick Brenebel, Solomon’s Port Washington-based private coach, said his pupil has improved his strength and consistency to add 10-15 mph to his serve over the last year. Solomon’s serve now peaks in the 115-120 mph range.

Few players on the local high school circuit serve with comparable speed.

Hawks coach Nick Ventimiglia recalled a moment during the county tournament, which Solomon won for the third straight year. Solomon had just won a game on an ace, and the opponent’s coach asked his player if the serve was inbounds.

“The kid goes, ‘You think I can see it? I’m just trying to hit it,’” Ventimiglia said.

Even Solomon’s 23-year-old brother, Ofir, struggles these days. Ofir, who played tennis for Fairfield, said he has not beaten Yuval since last summer.

Ofir remembered being away from home as Yuval blossomed during the 2015 season. Solomon, who was the state’s consolation runner-up as a freshman, finished second in the main draw in 2015. He avenged that championship loss to Webster-Schroeder’s Matt Gamble by defeating him in the 2016 final, 6-0, 5-7, 7-6 (4).

“All of a sudden I came home from college one year and he was 6-3 and couldn’t be more confident,” Ofir said.

The expectation is that Solomon will continue to improve as he moves on to Wake Forest, which ranked second in the final 2017 ITA poll. But he will never worry about what could have been. To remind himself of what was, he’ll just need to look at the banner that will eventually hang in Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s gymnasium.

“It’ll definitely be cool to come back to the high school, see my name up there, 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.”

Syosset’s Rajpal-Grossman take third

Rarely do third-place matches “mean the world,” but Syosset’s Preet Rajpal feared the burden that would accompany a fourth-place finish.

Rajpal, a junior, watched his younger brother, Kabir, finish third in the state doubles tournament last year. Not matching Kabir would have given an upper hand to the freshman in the sibling rivalry.

But Rajpal and partner Eli Grossman made sure that would not be the case. They defeated Roslyn’s Sangjin Song and Zachary Khazzam 6-2, 6-4 Saturday to secure third place.

“For another year (Kabir) can’t one-up me,” Rajpal said. “That’s the most important thing here today. I get to go home, show him some medal, and it’s going to be good. I’m going to enjoy tonight’s dinner.”

“That was all I was here for, just helping Preet,” Grossman joked.

But for Grossman, it was the culmination of an important learning experience. The junior, who also plays a key role for Syosset’s soccer team, said he has not devoted enough time to tennis.

“When I get here, I see how that hurts,” he said. “I see the second- and first-place teams, and I know that I need to step up my game and keep training to get at that level for next year.”

Half Hollow Hills East’s Abhinav Srivastava defeated Coxsackie-Athens’ Adrien Conrads 7-6 (8), 6-1 in the consolation final, and Westhampton’s Riley Smith and Daniel Tocco defeated Fayetteville-Manlius’ Christopher Lansing and Taran Judge 4-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8 in the doubles consolation final.

There was a time that Yuval Solomon contemplated training for college or pursuing a professional tennis career rather than leading the Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK varsity for another year.

But the thought of not defending his 2016 state championship continued to nag him. Ultimately, it was overwhelming, and Solomon chose to return with his sights set on becoming the seventh Nassau County boys tennis player to win multiple state titles.

Instead of wondering what could have been, Solomon knows what was — utter domination of the foes attempting to block his entry to that elite club.

The top-seeded senior, who is committed to play for national power Wake Forest, defeated No. 2 Sean Wei of Yorktown 6-1, 6-2 in the NYSPHSAA boys tennis championship final Saturday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

He also defeated Beacon’s Ethan Leon 6-1, 6-1 in the Federation final early in the afternoon.

“I definitely wanted to join that list of six greats from Nassau County,” said Solomon, referencing Cold Spring Harbor’s Josh Levine (2011-12), Jericho’s Cody Parr (2004-05), Wheatley’s Neil Edwab (1971-72), Westbury’s Joel Ross (1967-68), Great Neck North’s Peter Fishbach (1963-65) and Baldwin’s Karl Hendrick (1961-62). “I definitely wanted to defend my title.”

Like he did throughout the tournament, Solomon wore down his opponent quickly. Wei won three straight points just twice and two straight just five other times over the 15 games. Solomon’s serve was a constant force, producing 22 aces. He won five games 4-0, and closed the match with three straight aces to take the final game by that score.

Nick Brenebel, Solomon’s Port Washington-based private coach, said his pupil has improved his strength and consistency to add 10-15 mph to his serve over the last year. Solomon’s serve now peaks in the 115-120 mph range.

Few players on the local high school circuit serve with comparable speed.

Hawks coach Nick Ventimiglia recalled a moment during the county tournament, which Solomon won for the third straight year. Solomon had just won a game on an ace, and the opponent’s coach asked his player if the serve was inbounds.

“The kid goes, ‘You think I can see it? I’m just trying to hit it,’” Ventimiglia said.

Even Solomon’s 23-year-old brother, Ofir, struggles these days. Ofir, who played tennis for Fairfield, said he has not beaten Yuval since last summer.

Ofir remembered being away from home as Yuval blossomed during the 2015 season. Solomon, who was the state’s consolation runner-up as a freshman, finished second in the main draw in 2015. He avenged that championship loss to Webster-Schroeder’s Matt Gamble by defeating him in the 2016 final, 6-0, 5-7, 7-6 (4).

“All of a sudden I came home from college one year and he was 6-3 and couldn’t be more confident,” Ofir said.

The expectation is that Solomon will continue to improve as he moves on to Wake Forest, which ranked second in the final 2017 ITA poll. But he will never worry about what could have been. To remind himself of what was, he’ll just need to look at the banner that will eventually hang in Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s gymnasium.

“It’ll definitely be cool to come back to the high school, see my name up there, 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.”

Syosset’s Rajpal-Grossman take third

Rarely do third-place matches “mean the world,” but Syosset’s Preet Rajpal feared the burden that would accompany a fourth-place finish.

Rajpal, a junior, watched his younger brother, Kabir, finish third in the state doubles tournament last year. Not matching Kabir would have given an upper hand to the freshman in the sibling rivalry.

But Rajpal and partner Eli Grossman made sure that would not be the case. They defeated Roslyn’s Sangjin Song and Zachary Khazzam 6-2, 6-4 Saturday to secure third place.

“For another year (Kabir) can’t one-up me,” Rajpal said. “That’s the most important thing here today. I get to go home, show him some medal, and it’s going to be good. I’m going to enjoy tonight’s dinner.”

“That was all I was here for, just helping Preet,” Grossman joked.

But for Grossman, it was the culmination of an important learning experience. The junior, who also plays a key role for Syosset’s soccer team, said he has not devoted enough time to tennis.

“When I get here, I see how that hurts,” he said. “I see the second- and first-place teams, and I know that I need to step up my game and keep training to get at that level for next year.”

Half Hollow Hills East’s Abhinav Srivastava defeated Coxsackie-Athens’ Adrien Conrads 7-6 (8), 6-1 in the consolation final, and Westhampton’s Riley Smith and Daniel Tocco defeated Fayetteville-Manlius’ Christopher Lansing and Taran Judge 4-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8 in the doubles consolation final.

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