By MICHAEL J. LEWIS
When you experience a couple of days that change your life, it can be a little head-spinning.
Before, during and after it happened, as Schreiber High School’s Thea Rabman can attest.
The 16-year-old Port Washington girl had an incredible few days at the U.S. Open last week, getting to compete in the both the singles and doubles competitions in the Juniors tournament held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
After a stirring and stunning come-from-behind win on the opening day of the Girls Tournament on Sept. 6, Rabman ran into the No. 1 seed, Andorra’s Viktoria Jimenez Kasintseva, in the second round, and fell, 6-1, 6-0.
In the doubles competition, Rabman and her partner, Ariana Anazagasty-Pursoo, won their first-round match for the first Grand Slam win for the team before losing in the second round on Wednesday, Sept. 8. (They were entered into the doubles tournament thanks to Rabman qualifying for the singles event.)
In all, it was a crazy, wild and wonderful week for the Schreiber High girls tennis team member.
“It was a great experience, but everything just went really fast,” Rabman said after her singles defeat. “I hope if I get a chance to play here next year I’ll be able to process it a lot slower, and take it one point at a time.”
It’s only natural for Rabman to have had difficulty slowing things down; her rise to get to the Open was pretty fast. Working with coaches Greg Lumpkin and Lauren Clunan since she first started playing at 8 years old, Rabman has quickly risen to become a top college recruit and one of the top juniors in New York State (the tennis site tennisrecruiting.net lists her as the No. 1 college recruit from New York in her class, and No. 4 nationally).
“This kid works her butt off,” Clunan said. “What got her here to the Open is her ability to be humble, and take every opportunity she has, and just put her head down and put in the work to become a better player every day.”
All of Rabman’s matches at the Open saw a big contingent of Port Washington residents and friends of the family come out to support her.
“I’m so happy so many people I know and who support me got to see me play,” Rabman said. “I didn’t play my best today but there’s nothing you can do about it, just happy they were there to support me.”
With the Open finished for her, Rabman, who isn’t playing high school tennis this season, can begin to focus on accumulating more junior tournament wins, and where she wants to go to college in two years.
Without mentioning any names, she said most of the programs she wants to play for are on the East Coast, but she does have her eye on a dream school out West.
“I’m honestly open to anyone and everything as far as college goes,” Rabman said. “I’ll have to see how the next year goes.”
Back home in Port Washington, the reality of having played at the Open is starting to sink in for the family; Rabman said she was definitely looking forward to eating at her favorite local restaurant, iDiner, in the near future.
“This was so exciting for us, a dream she and her coaches have had for 18 months,” Thea’s father, Louis Rabman, said. “Just to be here, no matter how she does, is wonderful.”