Before he committed to Wake Forest and before he became a New York State tennis champion, Yuval Solomon was a 10-year-old volleying with his father on Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s courts.
Nick Ventimiglia had already been coaching tennis for eight years at that point. Over time, his ear had developed to discern a forceful thwack from an ordinary hit, and what he heard that day before his team’s practice caused him to turn around.
“All I could hear behind me was this ball zinging off his racket,” Ventimiglia said. “I’m like, who is hitting it like that? I thought it was the father hitting to the kid, but it was the kid zinging it back at him.”
As he watched Solomon, Ventimiglia grew more and more impressed. Solomon, who has sprouted to 6-3 as a senior, was already tall eight years ago. His serve was strong, his backhand accurate.
“I asked his father (Isaac) when’s he going to be in seventh grade,” Ventimiglia recalled. “He said two years, year and a half. I said I want him on my team.”
Solomon granted Ventimiglia’s wish, and he has blossomed into one of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s most decorated athletes. In seventh grade, Solomon started and went 7-5 at doubles. He has started at singles since eighth grade and has gone 49-1 over the last two seasons, Ventimiglia said.
That one blemish came in the 2015 state final, a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Webster-Schroeder’s Matt Gamble. After that defeat, Solomon and Ventimiglia spoke about aggression — how Solomon could pick his spots to attack Gamble should they meet again.
Last season, they lined up on opposite ends of the bracket and earned their way to a rematch. Solomon won a thriller, 6-0, 5-7, 7-6 (4).
That set the stage for Solomon to become the seventh tennis player from Nassau County to win multiple state championships, according to the county’s tennis handbook.
“I work hard every day,” Solomon said. “I play tennis every day. I do it for (Ventimiglia). I do it for my private coach. I do it for the team. I do it for the whole school.”
Solomon has been so dominant over the past two years that Ventimiglia said most of his matches end in about 30 minutes. Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK has six courts, which means five matches begin the same time as Solomon’s. Do the math, and several of Solomon’s teammates have never gotten to watch him compete outside of practice.
“They’re like I want to watch his whole match,” Ventimiglia said. “They’ve actually asked me to vary who goes on next so they can watch him play.”
For Solomon, the hope is that one day they will be able to watch him play on the professional circuit. He said he chose Wake Forest because of the program’s national credibility — the Demon Deacons are ranked No. 1 in the ITA Top 25 — and reputation for churning out professional tennis players.
“I want to hopefully make it my career,” Solomon said, “and not need to go to a real job.”
Nassau County tennis players who have won multiple state singles titles:
Josh Levine, Cold Spring Harbor 2011-12
Cory Parr, Jericho 2004-05
Neil Edwab, Wheatley 1971-72
Joel Ross, Westbury 1967-68
Peter Fishbach, Great Neck North 1963-65
Karl Hendrick, Baldwin 1961-62
Source: 2017 Section VIII Boys Tennis Handbook