Stuy High: Jou, Pan win Mayor's Cup crown
Stuyvesant teammates Christopher Jou and Leon Pan had an eventful week before the start of the Mayor’s Cup doubles final Saturday.
The seniors won their first two matches of the tournament during the week and had to shop and finalize their plans to attend their prom, which just happened to be scheduled on the night of their final high school competitive match.
Jou and Pan didn’t need to take too long on the court, dispatching of Jeremy Klapper and Sam Schwarz from High School of American Studies, 6-3, 6-2, in about an hour at the USTA National Tennis Center.
Pan and Jou not only won their first Mayor’s Cup title, they have plenty of time to prepare for their prom at the Waldorf-Astoria Saturday night.
The top-seeded Stuyvesant duo are among many of the players competing at the tournament who have had to balance tennis and school-related activities, such as the prom.
“We just wanted to get it done,” Jou said. “We weren’t rushing the match. We just wanted to finish the match. It was great. Last year we came up a little short. This year we decided to come back to try it again.”
Pan and Jou were already established as the top singles players for Stuyvesant last year. After pairing up to win the PSAL doubles titles, they advanced all the way to the Mayor’s Cup finals, where errors proved costly in a first-set tiebreaker and St. Francis Prep’s Kilby Featherston and Chris Jimenez captured the title in two sets.
“It was a pretty close match,” Pan said. “We had a lot of chances but we couldn’t convert. We came back this year making sure we could convert all our chances and we played well and took the title.”
Jou was worried that that this year’s finals, which began at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, wouldn’t be completed with the forecast calling for intermittent showers. A slight drizzle delayed the match for 10 minutes in the first set, but once the match resumed, Pan and Jou used an effective serve and volley game to get past their opponents.
“We had more experience,” Jou said. “We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses to play well. We stayed calm and all the practice we had together. We played better doubles."
Arnaboldi advances to semifinals
Andrew Arnaboldi says he had a good time attending the Horace Mann prom at the Pierre Hotel on Friday night. The Horace Mann first singles player was also prepared to compete in his Mayor’s Cup quarterfinal Saturday morning with little sleep.
Arnaboldi heard the alarm clock, and gained his energy throughout the match to record a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Matthew Balilo of Cardozo. The junior had previously appeared on the USTA courts last Sunday with the Lions in a 4-1 loss to Beacon in the Mayor’s Cup team finals.
“Once I got the juices flowing, I was able to pick it up a little bit,” Arnaboldi said. “I just tried to stay consistent and I’ll be fine. I knew I had a good chance if I put a lot of balls on the court and make him chase and return it as much as possible.”
The No. 7 seed felt the urgency to complete his two-set win in the third round over Beacon’s Sean Solomonoff Friday afternoon. Arnaboldi rushed off the court just minutes after the match to get ready for his prom.
Arnaboldi would have played his semifinal match against Lucas Pickering of Beacon Saturday, but it was postponed until 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The winner takes on Poly Prep’s Jeremy Kochman in the final at noon.
Even with his hectic social calendar, the junior wouldn’t change anything.
“It’s worth it,” Arnaboldi said. “I love tennis. It feels really good to get the job done.”
Mayor’s Cup Notes
Leon Goldstein’s top singles player Becky Shtilkind earned a 6-2, 6-4, victory over Isis Gill from Beacon in the girls semifinals. Shtilkind will play in the finals at 12 p.m. on Sunday against Cardozo sophomore Rebecca Fakas, who recorded a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Brittany Biggs.
Shtilkind said she is on the path to recover from a painful left foot injury, which occurred after stepping on a broken piece of glass at home before the PSAL Class A team semifinals three weeks ago.
The senior watched Goldstein defeat Cardozo in the city finals, and gutted out the pain to return for the Mayor’s Cup team finals. Despite losing to Maria DeRienzo in first singles, Goldstein prevailed with a 3-2 victory to end St. Francis Prep’s streak of 203 straight wins and 12 consecutive Mayor’s Cup trophies.
“I couldn’t put any pressure on foot, because it was huge and really nasty,” a smiling Shtilkind said. “Even now when I wake up I have to warm up my foot to get it going.”
The girls doubles final between Stuyvesant’s Julia Gokhberg and Dina Levy-Lambert and Cardozo’s Steliana Fakas and Nakia J. Miller will be Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Gokhberg and Levy-Lambert beat St. Francis Prep’s Lauren and Lisa N. Ventimiglia, 6-0, 6-1 in the first semifinal Friday afternoon and Fakas and Miller knocked off Beacon’s Isadora Braune and Sara Levy Lambert, 6-0, 6-0 in the other semifinal.