Sisters make splash on Bayside tennis team

Bayside sophomore Shnae Cummings (left) and her sister, senior Shkysi, decided to join the Commodores tennis team just a few months ago and found success on the court, placing third in the PSAL tournament on Thursday.
Photo by Laura Amato
By Laura Amato

Shkysi Cummings always wanted to play tennis, watched the sport on TV and dreamed of one day competing on the court. But the Bayside senior wasn’t a tennis player—she played handball.

Still, she couldn’t quite shake the idea of tennis, and a few months ago she approached her sister, Shnae, with the idea of joining the Commodores squad. Fast forward to the afternoon of Oct. 27 and the Cummings sisters weren’t just tennis players—they wrapped up their season with just one loss and a third-place finish in the PSAL finals.

“I couldn’t believe we got this far. It was really surprising,” Shkysi said. “I wanted to try it one time and see how it would be to play. So, finally, this year I was like, alright, I’ll take it seriously this year because it’s my senior year.”

Shnae is the first to admit that she had her doubts when her older sister suggested they take up tennis this fall. After all, they’ve been focused on handball for so long—leading Bayside to another PSAL championship last season—that the idea of playing another sport just seemed like too much to handle. They didn’t even have their own racquets, and played with old Bayside physical education equipment.

Those nerves, however, disappeared after the first tennis practice of the year.

“At first I was like, ‘Yo, we don’t know how to play tennis, what are you doing?’” Shnae said. “But then after practicing with the team, we got better and they taught us the rules and they were very friendly.”

Of course, it also helped that handball and tennis have some basic moves in common—particularly ones that require quick hands and fast reflexes. And the Cummings sisters have both of those.

“Handball has the wall and you’re hitting it back to yourself repeatedly with just one bounce—just like tennis,” Shkysi said. “The big difference is tennis has a net. But our reaction times are there and it helps our reflexes.”

The biggest challenge for both of the sisters came on the serve—something handball doesn’t have—and the two spent most of their practice time this year fine-tuning their approach.

“I can’t get the serves in ever, so I just do the little taps and it actually goes in,” Shnae said. “But I can’t do a hard serve like professionals do.”

The sisters notched a perfect regular season on the court and came into the PSAL tournament practically bursting with confidence before falling to Beacon in the semifinals. The duo turned things around in the third place match, however, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Cardozo.

Now, the Cummings turn their attention back towards handball, but they’re not quite done with tennis. Shnae plans to compete as a junior next year and Shkysi hopes to continue playing for fun. This journey—as well as the trophy that will sit in the Bayside case from now on—is simply a testament to what they’re both capable of doing.

They’re also going to keep the racquets.

“This just shows that whatever you try and whatever you want to do, you can do,” Shkysi said. “You just have to go out and do it.”

More from Around New York