What’s better than one Kahn?
Answer: Two Kahns.
Jacob and Xavier Kahn are talented tennis singles players in their own right, but they may be doubly better as a doubles team.
The twins from Greenport High School, seniors on the Southold/Greenport team, are Suffolk County Division IV doubles champions and more. They both are headed into the county doubles semifinals Saturday at Half Hollow Hills West High School.
Although neither of them had played doubles before this season, they have found success while straddling two worlds — singles and doubles.
The third-seeded Kahns upset the top-seeded Jaedon Glasstein and Alex Wesely of East Hampton, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the division final May 7. That made it a second straight year in which a Southold doubles team won the division championship. Cole Brigham and Devin Quinones achieved the feat last year. (This year Brigham and Quinones reached the county quarterfinals).
With their triumph, the Kahns brought their spotless record together to 10-0.
“I didn’t exactly expect to go undefeated, but I expected to do well,” said Jacob.
Southold coach Andrew Sadowski said: “They wanted to play in the individual tournament [at] doubles and it worked out. They are comfortable where they are. They are very comfortable playing together and as long as they play with patience, they’ll have a good showing the rest of the way.”
Meanwhile, the Southold team hasn’t done badly for itself. After finishing the regular season in third place in League VII, the 14th-seeded First Settlers topped No. 19 Port Jefferson, 4-3, in a Suffolk County Team Tournament first-round match Tuesday at Southold High School. Southold swept the three doubles matches, with the third doubles team of sophomore Matthew Messana and senior Ethan Vandenburgh bringing home the decisive team point.
A quarterfinal meeting Wednesday at No. 3 Bay Shore (15-0), the League III champion.
“My doubles [teams are] very consistent,” Sadowski said. “They came through. Three big ones.”
And, interestingly, neither of the Kahns played doubles Tuesday. In a strategic move to garner as many points as possible, Xavier was positioned at first singles and Jacob at second singles.
Jacob was a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 winner over sophomore Liam Cooper. “He played with patience,” said Sadowski.
Xavier, meanwhile, battled in a wildly entertaining match, before falling short in a third-set tiebreaker to senior Josh Gelfond. The scores were 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1).
“It was fun playing him,” Xavier said. “I could have played better, obviously. I could have won, but he was really good.”
Sadowski said Xavier’s “patience was up and down a little bit, just like his opponent, but that was a very, very good match. That easily could have gone either way.”
Indeed, Gelfond and Xavier proved to be a good match for each other, trading long rallies, tremendous shots and gets. Xavier was outpointed, 98-89, in a match in which both players were applauded afterward.
Messana and Vandenburgh earned their all-important team point with a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Aaron Held and Jonathan Kelsch.
Brigham and Quinones breezed at first doubles, 6-1, 6-1 over Carman Stanton and Lucas Welinder. Brothers Cal and Van Karsten scored a 6-2, 6-0 win over Port Jefferson’s Dylan Dugourd and David Rotunno.
Port Jefferson, a League V team, excelled in singles, where it picked up wins by James Capone (6-3, 6-2 over Ryan Fulda) and Noah Teaney (6-1, 6-3 over Drew Walker).
The Kahn brothers have expressed a preference for doubles.
“It’s fun,” Jacob said. “Doubles is just more dynamic. It’s quicker points, not as tiring physically, but you got to be more focused each point. Each shot, you got to be focused completely.”
Doubles may take the Kahns far. They will play two matches Saturday, a county semifinal and then either a final or a third-place match. If they finish third or higher, they will earn a place in the state tournament May 30-June 1 at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.
Said Xavier, “We have two chances to go to the states.”
Photo caption: Jacob Kahn (pictured) and his twin, Xavier, are Suffolk County Division IV doubles champions. (Credit: Bob Liepa)