Hewlett’s Rachel Arbitman knew last fall she wouldn’t try defending her Nassau County and New York State girls’ tennis singles championships. That’s only because she had another challenge in mind.
“Right before this season began I decided I wanted to try to win a doubles title as well,” Arbitman said. “It was definitely something I thought about for a while.”
So after helping the Lady Bulldogs finish in a three-way tie for second place (9-5) against the highest level of competition in Conference I, Arbitman, a junior, entered the county doubles tournament with eighth-grade teammate Nyla Gershfeld.
“They had very limited time on the court together before counties,” Hewlett coach Abby Samlin said. “Rachel plays a lot of doubles in tournaments and Nyla also has doubles experience. Rachel is like a coach on the court and they just clicked.”
Arbitman and Gershfeld practiced against teammates Nicole Pinkus and Sophia Karmazin and ironically met them in the county quarterfinals. Pinkus and Karmazin earned All-County honors thanks to three victories.
After getting through a difficult semifinal, Arbitman and Gershfeld defeated Wheatley sisters Kaya and Kavina Amin, 6-1, 6-2, for the crown Oct. 20 at Eisenhower Park. The Amins captured the Nassau doubles crown in 2017.
“Nyla and I have great chemistry on and off the court,” Arbitman said. “It was great to win it.”
Prior to Monday afternoon, when Arbitman and Gershfeld captured the state championship, no player in the state had won consecutive state titles with one each in singles and doubles since Jennifer Kelner of Hauppauge in 2007 and 2008, according to the NYS Public High School Athletic Association website.
During the regular season, Arbitman, Gershfeld and Pinkus combined to win 40 singles matches, helping the Lady Bulldogs to a successful campaign as the only south shore school in Conference I.
Arbitman went 14-0 at first singles. “Rachel’s so talented and steady,” Samlin said. “She never shows any negative emotions. She’s a confident player who keeps her composure.”
Gershfeld, who moved up from third singles a year ago to No. 2, went 14-3. “She’s come a long way and really held her own against tough competition,” Samlin said. “There are no easy matches.”
Pinkus, a junior who played second doubles each of the previous two seasons, won 12 matches at third singles. “Nicole played strong throughout tryouts and was clearly our No. 3,” Samlin said.
Karmazin, a sophomore, formed Hewlett’s top doubles pairing with senior Jenifer Perper and they produced a respectable .500 record. At second doubles, senior Chloe Mazo, a five-year varsity player, and sophomore Nila Katsman, enjoyed a big finish. Senior Anna Bromfeld and freshman Sasha Ogievetsky were no strangers to lengthy matches, Samlin said, and were able to wear down some rivals. Senior Lauren Ledon and freshman Rachel Halpert got the job done at fourth doubles, while seniors Chelsea May and Jules Polakoff proved important pieces to the puzzle in sub roles.
The Lady Bulldogs logged a six-match winning streak from Sept. 13-26, with the last four of those victories coming by 4-3 margins. “It’s such a competitive conference,” Samlin said. “You have to earn everything.”