With lacrosse being the king of spring sports on Long Island, and baseball, softball, and track garnering a lot of the attention, racket sports like badminton and tennis tend to get overlooked.
At West Hempstead, the boys’ tennis program was top dog this spring. The Rams went undefeated, and won their first conference title in eons. West Hempstead, which finished with an overall record of 10-1, advanced to the conference finals, where it was upset 4-3 by Uniondale, a team it had beaten twice during the regular season. The Rams knocked off Malverne/East Rockaway in the semifinal round.
Head coach Charlie Colangelo was ecstatic about the team’s accomplishments. “I’m thrilled with how we played; what a ride,” Colangelo said. “The key was that it wasn’t just the top players who got it done. It was a true team effort. To go undefeated, you need contributions from a lot of players. It usually comes down to the guys who play doubles. It was a great season. They’re a real good bunch of kids.”
The Rams got outstanding play from Chris Gabayan all season long. The junior first singles player earned All-Conference recognition, leading West Hempstead to a 10 straight victories.
With just three seniors on the roster, Colangelo expects to have a strong team next season as well. One player with a big future is Dayquan Crawley. The freshman made a name for himself early on in the season when his three-set win was the difference as the Rams earned a 4-3 victory over Levittown Division.
While the singles performers more than held their own, it was the doubles teams that were key in securing victories throughout the season. The team of Joel Finkelstein and Damian Kim was virtually unbeatable. The pair earned All-Division recognition.
Also picking up All-Division honors were the doubles teams of Kannan Rajendran and Alex Joy, and Siddeeq Bacchus and Ben Fernandez. The doubles team made up of Kevin Cairo and Leorichard Pascua also had a solid season for West Hempstead.
The Rams aren’t just getting it done on the court; they’re making things happen in the classroom as well. The team has a cumulative grade point average that is well over 90 percent, and will be recognized with a New York State Scholar/Athlete Team Award for the third consecutive season.