Girls tennis completes a strong and successful season: After a 1-6 start this year, Port bounces back to make the playoffs

Matt Kramer, Staff Writer

The girls tennis team featured a lot of new faces this season, having lost many players to graduation last year, and gaining new ones in September.  With seven out of the fifteen girls returning and only four of them being seniors, the team had to create a new dynamic.  The Vikings added four new seniors, three juniors, and two underclassmen.

From top to bottom, each and every girl contributed to the team’s success.  Ranging from senior captains Emma Rosenberg, Blake Dolin, and Sydney Levy to freshman Brittany Polevikov, who played on the first doubles team and qualified for this year’s all-county tournament, there was a wide range of contributors.

Although its season ended with a playoff loss to rival Manhasset on Oct. 20th, the team had a huge turnaround from the start of its season.  After the first seven matches of the year, the girls posted a record of just 1-6, with their only win coming against Roslyn.  Losses to Manhasset, Great Neck South, and to Friends Academy contributed to their rough start.  The Vikings knew that it needed to make some changes in order to turn their season around.

After the rough start and a blowout loss to Manhasset, Head Coach Mr. Shane Helfner began to change things around.  Helfner shifted around the teams’ doubles partners, and after this change, the Vikings finished with a 4-3 record in their remaining matches.  The team finished with a 5-9 overall record, which helped it slide into the playoffs.

“Everyone really stepped it up and we bonded and figured out how to work together and win,” said Rosenberg.

Once the changes were made, the turning point of the season hit.  With a 1-6 record, the team went into a match against Great Neck South and won 6-1 after losing to them earlier in the season.  The blowout helped the team for many reasons.  Not only was this a huge momentum builder but also gave Port the advantage if the two teams were to finish with the same record at season’s end.

“We realized we could beat the teams that had already beat us and possibly make it to the playoffs,” said Rosenberg.

The Vikings’ first playoff opponent was the East Meadow Jets.  The team was playing well going into this match ,and continued to play with a lot of confidence and take control of each match.  Ultimately, the Vikings came out on top with a statement victory, sweeping 7-0.  This win gave the girls confidence that they could play well and beat their upcoming opponent, Manhasset.

Manhasset came into the match undefeated this season, finishing first in the conference.  The team even featured some nationally ranked players, who carried the team to the top of the conference.

Although they were nervous, the Vikings played with poise, but could not come together to upset Manhasset.

Junior Maddie Lane was one of the most impressive girls on the court that day, using a powerful baseline shot and her killer drop shot.  She dominated every point and finished her match in two sets, winning 6-0, 6-2.  Lane contributed one of the two wins for Port in the match against Manhasset.

The team had the potential to pull off the win, but lost the close matches that would have given them the edge.  The Vikings lost 2-5, ending their season.

“The team really came together at the end of the season.  Even though we  weren’t able to upset Manhasset, every girl on this team showed development and  the heart players need to win,” said senior Jen Hepner.  “Each and every girl on this team has a reason to be proud.  Even though we were not able to finish the season with a championship, there is a lot of potential on this team and I believe it will be successful for years to come.”

Rosenberg and Levy led the team at first and second singles, with Dolin and senior Sayuki Mori in second doubles and senior Rachel Weitzner at third doubles.   In addition, junior Sophie Lampl proved to be one of the most consistent players on the team.

“The main highlight was after we started out 1-6, we worked hard and fought our way to get into the playoffs,” said Dolin.