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East Tops West In Tennis 

It was a battle of East vs. West on Friday, and East came out on top.

The varsity girls tennis teams in the Half Hollow Hills School District continue to be a double threat on the courts this season in League I. Hills East boasts an undefeated fall record and are in first place in the league, while Hills West is a contender in a three-way tie for second place.

The undefeated Lady Thunderbirds breezed through the first half of the fall season, securing seven consecutive wins, six of which were won 7-0. According to head coach Tom Depelteau, the Hills East legacy of success is a bar the older girls have set; it is continuously raised by the younger girls.

“Part of it is the continuity of the culture. The younger kids see how hard they have to work to get into the lineup,” Depelteau said.

The team of 13 labored diligently in the off-season, Depelteau said. Because of the two stellar new additions to the team – sisters Ester Chikvashvili, a sophomore, and Stephanie Chikvashvili, a freshman – the head coach said he was able to tweak the lineup to have strong players on both the singles and doubles teams.

After careful thinking, Depelteau made Ester the first singles player and Stephanie the second singles player. He made his first singles star from last year, Vanessa Scott, a partner in the first doubles team.

Scott, a junior, and senior captain Alison Huber are the first doubles team. They have proven to be just as strong as a pair as they are solo.

Huber captains the team along with seniors Aikta Rajput and Natalie Haebich, who were chosen as captains by their peers.

Hills East first defeated Harborfields, 7-0, on Sept. 9 when third doubles pair Melissa Achenbaum and Divya Rao beat their Lady Tornadoes opponents 6-1, 6-0. On Sept. 10, Hills East swept Commack, who historically has been a rival team for East, the coach said. Fourth singles player Gabrielle Raziel beat her Harborfields challenger 6-2, 6-3 to lead the Lady Thunderbirds over the Lady Cougars, 7-0.

The Lady Thunderbirds took a short break after defeating Westhampton 7-0 on Sept. 11, and hosted Whitman on Sept. 16, winning 7-0.

At Elwood John Glenn High School, Rajput dethroned her opponent, 6-2, 6-2, to lead Hills in a 7-0 victory on Sept. 17. The following day, Hills East won again, 6-1, to Smithtown East, ending their opponent’s perfect record.

The competition reached its peak last Friday, Depleteau said, when Hills East hosted its district counterpart, Hills West. East won that game by a landslide, 7-0. Natalie Haebich and Mary Kravitz beat Hills West’s third doubles team, Rachel Tucker and Naya Williams, 6-0, 6-2, to help defend Hills East’s undefeated record of 5-0.

Hills West’s season, while slightly less consistent than East’s, has been relatively successful overall, having secured a league record of 3-2.

Hills West fell to Smithtown East, 6-1, on Sept. 9 but quickly bounced back one day later against Walt Whitman. The Lady Colts beat the Lady Wildcats 6-1 on Sept. 10, when first singles player Lauren Salzano defeated Rini Halder 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Hills West locked in a win against Harborfields, 6-1, on Sept. 16, when Tucker defeated her singles opponent 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, at Harborfields.

The Lady Colts were given a run for their money Sept. 18, when one point determined whether or not they’d beat Commack. Tucker and Williams won in the deciding, three-set third doubles match to give Hills the lead, 4-3.

On Sept. 30, the Lady Thunderbirds host Harborfields at 4 p.m., while Hills West hosts Smithtown East at 4 p.m.

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