Cheers to Hewlett’s Gabriella Leon and Veronika Paikin, who performed the hardest feat in sports this fall when they repeated as Nassau County doubles champions in tennis.
The hardest thing to do in any sport is to do something again, to repeat. In repeating as champions Leon and Paikin did themselves and their school proud, and then they did themselves one better, playing all the way to the semifinal round of the New York State Championships before falling to Edgemont’s Alexa Goldberg and Tomo Iwasaki, 1-6 and 2-6. The duo then fell in the consolation match and finished fourth in the state.
All in all it was not a bad encore for Leon and Paikin, who last year won two tournament matches at states. This year they won three. Leon and Paikin came into the season with the burden of expectation. Not only had they won the county title in doubles last fall, but they hadn’t lost a single set along the way. Hewlett coach Ron Remick wasn’t even sure if anyone had ever repeated as doubles champs; at least he couldn’t remember it happening.
“It’s kind of a unique thing,” Remick said.
To complicate matters, Leon and Paikin had to overcome several obstacles, from illnesses to injuries to school commitments to everyday life. Both players were bothered by tendinitis, for example.
“This year was a lot tougher,” Remick said. “They had to overcome a little adversity, and they had to come back in some of their matches.”
The duo even lost a couple of sets along the way. But in addition to being focused and talented, Leon and Paikin had something else going for them: each other.
“They’re both very consistent,” Remick said. “They both have good serves, they’re both strong baseline players. Gabby is a little taller, so she’s stronger at the net.”
The duo overcame everything and repeated as Nassau County champs.