Whitman's Stone Takes Suffolk Tennis
Five times, Brandon Stone faced imminent defeat. And five times, the Whitman sophomore survived to play another point Friday.
The unseeded Stone overcame five match points in the second set and won the deciding third set to defeat No. 1 Jeremy Dubin of Southampton, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-5, in the final of the Suffolk County singles championship at Smithtown East.
Four of those match points came with Dubin up 5-4 and and attempting to break Stone's serve
"I was playing those match points like every other point," Stone said. "I just stayed with it and came back."
Stone and Dubin qualified for the state championship June 2-4 at the National Tennis Center in Flushing.
In the first set, it was Dubin who completed an improbable comeback.
Down 5-2, he won five straight games, breaking Stone's serve two times to take the set. After letting the set slip away, Stone regrouped and cut down on his unforced errors. "I just kept fighting," Stone said.
In the second set, cramping in Dubin's left leg forced him to take a five-minute injury timeout.
He said he was than 100 percent for the rest of the match and refused to use the injury as an excuse.
"It didn't really affect my play because I had a 5-3 lead and had some opportunities to win," Dubin said.
Even Stone seemed stunned by his against-all-odds turnaround.
"I wanted to make states," Stone said. "I didn't think I would win the whole thing."
A blown first set and five saved match points later, Stone made it happen.
Freshman Zain Ali of Hills East, who lost to Dubin in the semis, beat Ross' Rich Sipala, 7-6 (6), 6-1, in the consolation match to qualify for the states.
Ross' Felipe Reis and Henry Lee won the doubles title by defeating defending champions and No. 1 seeds Chris Hunter and Eric Bertuglia from Hills East, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5, both teams moving to the states.
"No one thought we would do it, and I don't even think we thought we could do it in the first set," Lee said.
Reis and Lee prevailed in a three-set semifinal match against Sachem East's Jason Quintana and Dylan Quintana. The Quintana brothers advanced to states with a consolation match win over Hills East's Alex Ricciuti and Jeremy Schnapp, 6-2, 6-4.