Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
On May 23, the Port Washington Badminton team won its second straight Nassau County Championship by defeating Calhoun by a score of 4-3. This is the third year in a row that Port has played Calhoun in the county finals, with each contest decided by a score of 4-3. In many ways this season followed the same pattern as last year. Of the thirty five teams in the county, Calhoun and Port entered the playoffs as the one and two seeds, respectively. They were Conference I co-champions, but because Calhoun’s margin of victory was greater than Port’s in their two regular season matches, the Colts got the number one seed.
On April 16, Port travelled to Calhoun and lost 1-6. The final team score, however, did not reflect how close the match actually was. Four of Calhoun’s wins came in three set matches (matches are best of three) that came down to the final few points. According to Coach David O’Connor, “It was the best 1-6 loss I’ve ever seen. We walked out of their gym very confident that we could beat them in the future. It may have been a major loss on paper, but I think it really got our players motivated for the rest of the season.”
Port got its chance to play them again on May 8, and it was a very different outcome. Liz Kallenberg and Lauren Livingston avenged their losses in the first match with straight set victories in singles competition. The first doubles pair of Avanti Shroff and Rachel Hanford, and the second doubles team of Holly Hubsher and Laura de Bruin also won decisively to give Port the 4-3 win. “Winning that match was really important for us because it made us believe that we had a real shot at the county title,” said senior Laura de Bruin.
Port defeated Bethpage in the county quarterfinals by a score of 6-1. Third singles player Catherine Tasnady won a hard-fought three set match, and fourth doubles pair Cassie Lammers and Charmaine Ye won by a wide margin to lead the team into the semifinals. On May 21, the girls took on Long Beach in the semis and again won by a score of 6-1. Lauren Livingston and Liz Kallenberg defeated two All-County opponents in singles play to help secure the victory. Laura de Bruin said, “We were very confident against Long Beach, and we were pretty sure we’d be playing Calhoun again in the finals. That had been our goal since the start of the season.”
The team went to Bellmore Kennedy High School to face Calhoun yet again in the finals. Senior Debbie Oyarzun recalled, “We were really excited on the bus ride down and we were very confident.” With all seven matches being played simultaneously, Kallenberg at first singles and the team of Shroff and Hanford at first doubles cruised to quick wins in their matches to give Port an early lead in the match. Calhoun, however, soon countered with two wins of its own to tie the score at two. Second doubles players Hubsher and de Bruin then put Port in the lead with a 21-17, 21-16 victory with only two matches still in play. After the match, Hubsher said, “It was a great match, and Laura and I played really well together. It’s one of the highlights of my athletic career.” Just as the second doubles match was completed, the third doubles pair of Priyanka Ninan and Daisy Aguilar took a commanding 18-14 lead in the second set of their match. They remained in control of the match until the end, finishing with a final score of 21-16, 21-17 to secure the title. Senior Charmaine Ye exclaimed, “Both times we played them during the regular season it was so close. I was so happy when I found out that we won the match.”
The Nassau County title capped another outstanding season for the team, which finished with a 14-1 record in conference play. Many of the girls also earned individual distinctions this season. Junior Liz Kallenberg won her second straight Nassau County Singles Championship, and the doubles teams of Avanti Shroff and Rachel Hanford, and Daisy Agular and Priyanka Ninan earned All-County honors. Several girls were also recognized as All-Conference players, including Lauren Livingston, Holly Hubsher, Laura de Bruin, Charmaine Ye and Cassie Lammers. With only three starters graduating and a strong group of underclassmen, the team is in good shape for next season. “As we were driving back from Bellmore after the match,” O’Connor said, “I was thinking about the team getting back there next year.”