Backed by a group of senior co-captains that led the way both on and off the court, Kennedy’s boys’ tennis team capped an unbeaten season with a 5-2 victory over previously undefeated Mepham on May 15 to claim the Division 3B championship.
The Cougars (13-0 overall) didn’t lose more than one game to any opponent until the championship match, racking up five wins by 7-0 shutouts and seven more by a 6-1 score.
“The smiles on their faces [on the bus after the title win] kind of showed [their excitement],” coach Steve Hartmann said. “The players committed, attended every practice and the three seniors took the lead by setting a great example.”
No. 1 singles player Jared Halstrom capped off a Kennedy career that included six seasons at the varsity level, the last five as the top singles player, with a 13-1 mark. He defeated Glen Cove’s Braddock Chow, 6-3, 6-2, in the semifinals on May 14, putting the Cougars in position to play in the championship round. “His work ethic, commitment and passion for the sport [stand out],” Hartmann said. “He takes pride in himself, helps his teammates out and has been a captain for quite some time.”
Senior Ross Binder put an exclamation mark on his career with the deciding victory over Mepham, defeating the Pirates’ Josh Gaufman, 6-4, 6-0, in the finals. After beginning his career as a No. 4 doubles and an alternate in ninth grade, Binder’s senior season was one to remember. He was the only Cougar to finish a perfect 14-0, and according to Hartman, most of Binder’s transformation came from within.
“He was a quiet young player as a ninth-grader but became a leader by setting an example,” Hartmann said.
As the No. 3 singles player, senior Cooper Richman, the third co-captain, put together a 10-4 record this season and also joined Halstrom and Binder on the roster of the County Tournament team that features the top players in Nassau.
While Kennedy was anchored by seniors in singles competition, the sophomores and juniors on the team—most notably in doubles competition—certainly pulled their weight. Junior Jared Nossen and sophomore Jacob Bauman anchored the No. 1 doubles team with junior Zach Goldman and sophomore Harris Bauman the mainstays at No. 2. Junior David Glaser and freshman Andrew Smith played as the No. 3 team, followed by a pair of juniors — Jordan Fessler and Rob Freed — on the No. 4 tandem. Junior Josh Goldman saw time on the court as an alternate.
“When you think about it, it’s probably more important [that the doubles teams perform well] because there are four doubles matches and only three for singles,” Hartmann said. “You could win all three singles games and still lose the match.”