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South Side nets playoff berth


A rare doubleheader sweep sealed South Side’s first trip to the Nassau boys’ tennis playoffs since 2014.

The Cyclones went on the road and defeated a solid East Meadow team, 5-2 and 4-3, the latter in thrilling come-from-behind fashion, May 8 to clinch second place in Conference 2B. They dropped only two of 13 regular-season matches and carry a six-match win streak into the playoffs.

“It’s a nice accomplishment,” coach Chris Colesanti said. “Everything came down to that day. It was either us or East Meadow for the other [second] playoff spot since Massapequa was undefeated.”

After rain interrupted the first meeting between the teams April 12 at Hempstead Lake State Park, both matches were held at East Meadow. The Cyclones arrived as early as they could, Colesanti said, and took the continuation of the first match behind a gritty 6-4, 7-6 win by senior Phil Frank (10 wins) at third singles.

In the originally scheduled match, East Meadow took a 3-1 lead in courts as it looked to earn a split. South Side chipped away, staying alive when its third doubles tandem of juniors Cole Birk and Matt Bo pulled out a 7-5, 6-4 win — their ninth of the year. At second doubles, seniors James Sackstein and Dylan Genosa rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 10-4 triumph to even the match, thus setting the stage for No. 2 singles player Russell Scala’s heroics.

Scala, a junior who lost earlier in the day to Lucas Mun, flipped the result with a three-set marathon victory to provide the Cyclones with the decisive court. Nicknamed the “Ironman,” Scala, who rose from an alternate in 2018 to a key cog in the lineup this spring, prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 10-6.

“He’s very deceptive,” Colesanti said of Scala, who has a record of 8-3. “He doesn’t make many errors and finds ways to win.”

South Side also notched a pair of victories over Lynbrook down the stretch, including another 4-3 nailbiter that saw top singles player Justin Seplowe (9-2) put on a dominant performance losing just one game each set. “Justin’s our No. 1 for the second year in a row and he’s bigger, faster, stronger, steadier and more aggressive,” Colesanti explained.

At first doubles, it’s hard to find a pair with better chemistry than three-year partners Cole Cornell and Dino Dervovic. The seniors are 13-0 —after going 13-1 last season — and have almost 40 career wins. Cole thrives at the net, while Dervovic is a powerful baseliner. “They both have sharp games,” Colesanti said. Seniors Jim Hennessy and Ryan Collins notched eight wins at fourth doubles.