Just a year removed from moving down in the Nassau County ability based high school tennis conferences, North Shore was able to pull off the incredible feat of finishing 14-0 and securing a conference championship. Led by a mix of experienced seniors and talented underclassmen, coach Brian Kline’s crew accomplished all of its goals this spring, and not just in the win and loss columns.
“You have to define experience. In what it means for us, it’s team growth as a whole,” said Kline. “Getting that experience as a group, having the twelfth graders and eight graders have meaningful conversations and learn from each other. Being a unit and being together. That is success for us, and we achieved that.”
Kline points to the success of the team as a group. He constantly stressed the importance of being a team, and how that may be lost upon some in this current generation. “Throughout the season, we don’t highlight anyone individually,” Kline said. “It’s important for us that we do everything together, and are represented as such.”
This success and attitude shines through one of Kline’s star pupils and first singles player Luke Karniewich. Karniewich is committed to play at and attend Binghampton University in the fall. This comes after a senior year campaign in which he lost zero matches.
“He’s a great leader with a great attitude,” Kline said. “He helps his teammates all the time and he’s been with me for six years now. He’ll know what to expect at the next level.”
Kline refers to his growth as not just a winner on the court, but having a winner’s mindset. “When he first started, it was about how he could get better,” Kline said. “He matured and really embraced taking on a leadership and mentoring role to younger players on the team. He’s also a phenomenal doubles player.”
Second singles player Dhruv Ghandi suffered only one defeat throughout the season, while third singles player Luke DiBenedetto matched Karniewich’s undefeated record.
“Our singles were fantastic,” Kline said. “When you have your three singles players that collectively lost one time, knowing you only need one doubles match for a team win is relieving.”
First doubles players Derrick Korponay and Alex Simms were sensational as well. Korponay, a senior and six-year varsity player, has taken the eighth-grader Simms under his wing, and that’s the exact mindset Kline has been preaching about.
Second doubles Jack Levin and Aidan Hortsmann, third doubles Harrison Gilman and Krishna Arya, and fourth double Jose Porres and Anthony Santoro all contributed to the success.
With an undefeated record and conference championship, the Vikings will most likely see a promotion back to Conference II in 2020. But the promotion was not Kline’s measuring stick of success.
“They didn’t have a lot of success last year,” Kline said. “Most of those same players were back this year, and they went undefeated as a team. To see them have success without changing their identity or who they were, still having respect for their opponents in a 7-0 shutout, and sticking around after their matches to watch their teammates, that to me is cool as a coach. That is success.”