Game, Set, Match

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Head Coach Shane Helfner and the 2015 girls varsity tennis team
Head Coach Shane Helfner and the 2015 girls varsity tennis team

With three games left in their regular season, the Schreiber girls varsity tennis team is trying to fight their way into the playoffs. Despite a lowly 2-7 record, the girls are in a three-way battle for the sixth and final spot in their conference.

Under the helm of second-year Coach Shane Helfner, this year’s rendition of the Vikings boast a mixture of seniors and a lot of junior varsity players from last season. Nine of the 15 girls on the roster are in their final academic year, which provides Helfner’s squad a plethora of experience and team depth.

“That’s one of our advantages against other teams,” said Coach Helfner. “We have a couple of superstar type players but their best strength is that we are tough to beat throughout the lineup. Every match is a winnable match for us.”

Last season, the girls placed third in Nassau County. However, this isn’t the same team from a year ago. There are plenty of new faces for the Vikings this campaign. It took time for the girls to come together and get comfortable with one another.

Fast forward to this point in the season, the girls continue to build confidence and find themselves fighting for that final point in those close matches. Four of their nine games so far have ended by one point.

“We are looking to really understand that every match is a point,” said Helfner. “So it’s just a matter of believing in ourselves. We had a little bit of a rough start but the girls kept believing and we are seeing some of the results now from that.”

The Viking’s biggest strengths are the players themselves. Leading the charge in first singles is senior Emma Rosenberg. She has been gaining confidence and is playing her best tennis at this time of the year.

The team’s first doubles unit consists of freshman Brittney Polevikov and junior Sophie Lampl. These girls are the top players to keep an eye on down the stretch.

Right now, Helfner believes Manhasset is the team to beat in the conference. He stressed that the competition is even and there is not one team that the girls can’t beat. In fact, the Vikings like their chances of sneaking in and possibly making a run to the championship.

“I think the girls feel they can be in the county championship, even with our record right now,” said Helfner. “We are sitting right around that six spot. I think we all feel like we are playoff ready and once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.”

The expectations for Helfner and the Vikings are high. They will prepare to make each and every set in their three remaining must-win matches count. It’s going to take all hands on deck to get to where they want to be. The girls will look to their veterans and team depth to get them back into the postseason.

From the three singles to the four doubles to even the alternates, everyone will need to contribute at this stage in the season.

“We finished third last year,” said Coach Helfner. “Even though we lost a lot of players from that team, we want to try to get back to that spot. I have a feeling we are going to make this late season run.”

Even with their current record, Helfner is proud of the hard work the girls has put into this season. They are excited to finish out the remainder of the season while they are still in the hunt for a postseason spot. The Vikings will aim to finish strong and hopefully make their championship aspirations come true.

“We want to represent Port Washington the best we can,” said Helfner. “We know what it means to be a part of this program and we are ready for the challenge.”