It took an extra week to happen, but the Port Washington Vikings Varsity Girls Tennis team won their second Long Island Championship in the past three years.
The girls of Paul D. Schreiber High School capped off their 18-0 season with a championship win over Westhampton on Wednesday at the Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack. The team won all four singles and three doubles matches while only dropping one set.
“I told our girls at the beginning of the match, try to get out to early leads,” head coach Shane Helfner said. “Just go out and play clean, fundamental tennis, and the rest will all work itself out.”
The match was postponed for weather delays on several occasions, but Helfner ensured that his team would be ready to win, whenever the match was officially scheduled, she said.
“We could have allowed the delays to psych ourselves out, but our girls know better than to let that happen,” he explained. “We used every day to practice, either physically playing outside, or watching practice and game film inside.”
Helfner, who took over the boys’ team two years ago, is in his sixth year coaching the girls. Over the past three years, the lady Vikings have gone 50-1, with their only loss coming in last year’s county semifinals against Hewlett. This year, the stars aligned for a rematch between the two in the same setting.
“Last year stung. It was the perfect storm of us being off our game, and they were playing their A-game,” Helfner explained. “This year, we knew we were the more dominant team, and we proved it.”
Helfner also harked on the importance of his two senior captains, Casey Fanous and Charlotte Forman. Both girls were a part of the team’s 2017 championship victory, and they expressed some of the similarities and differences between their two Long Island titles.
“They really carried this team,” Helfner said. “Though our team may feature singles players that are younger, those two took charge of the team. Casey is a great, energetic player, and Charlotte is just a competitor and a winner.”
“The dynamic of this year’s team is very different than two years ago,” Fanous said. “We became such a close team over this year by going out to lunches, dinners, and hanging out before and after practices. It was such a great feeling throughout the season.”
“Casey and I were sophomores in 2017. Being captains gave the championship a whole new feeling to it,” Forman explained. “We supported each other through the entire season, and as a result, so many of our girls came out of their shell. It was great to see.”
Though Fanous and Foster have played their last matches on the court, there is plenty of youth that Helfner has been cultivating. The Vikings’ top three single players will not exceed past sophomore status next year, making the team an early favorite for 2020.
“It all really starts with Thea [Rabman],” Helfner said. She is such a fighter and just amazes me every time I see her play.”
Rabman, who lost in the state finals for girls’ singles earlier in the week, beat her Westhampton opponent 7-5, 6-4 to cap off her first championship run.
The Vikings only dropped one set on Wednesday, shutting out Westhampton, the number one ranked team in all of Suffolk County.
Forman and her doubles partner Dasha Perfiliev only dropped one individual game to their Westhampton counterparts, dominating 6-0, 6-1. Fanous and doubles partner Samantha Radinsky won their matches 6-1, 6-2.
“We know we’re dominant,” Fanous said. “Coming into this game we knew what was at stake. We were very motivated the whole season, and even with the championship delays, that didn’t change.”
“These girls are already so mature,” Forman said. “Not many people see how much effort is put in behind the scenes, but we do so much to make sure we are playing our best each match.”
The two captains also thanked their coach and teammates for being an integral part of the culmination of their high school tennis tenures resulting in a championship.
“Nobody could ask for a better coach,” Fanous said. “He is one of the best people you will ever meet, and he does everything in his power to be there for the team.”
“He’s so knowledgable about the game,” Forman elaborated. “He and the whole staff were so crucial to our success. I owe all the success I’ve had in high school tennis to those coaches and my teammates.”