Over the years, St. Francis Prep and Benjamin Cardozo have been the dominating tennis teams in Queens in the Catholic and public school leagues, respectively. And this year is no exception.
At St. Francis Prep, the Terriers return starters Alex Derienzo, Chris Jimenez, Laurent Octobre, Joe Laskowski, and Kilby Featherston from last year’s undefeated team in league competition. There is a nice mixture of sophomores, juniors, and seniors on the roster, and they are all talented.
Derienzo, in his fourth year on the team, went undefeated last year in the CHSAA.
“He’s a tremendous competitor,” said head coach John Brennan. “He always gives 100 percent in practice and in the matches. Hopefully, he’ll give us our third straight city championship. Chris has tremendous potential, is only a sophomore, and has gotten enormously better. He is a very, very good player. Alex and Chris are the best players in Queens.”
Brennan is confident that his team will win its third straight city-wide CHSAA title. St. Francis Prep’s competition will come from Iona Prep, Fordham Prep, Holy Cross, and Xavier, in a five-team-strong division. Brennan feels that the race will be between his team and Iona Prep.
“We don’t have any great players like we had in the past,” said Brennan. “But we do have seven players who are very talented. Our singles players are better than they were last year. And I don’t think the league is as strong as it has been in the past. [Brooklyn’s] Xaverian always has been talented and moved into the ‘B’ league. … Our goal is to win a match in the Mayor’s Cup [tournament] and get to the semifinals. I’ll be happy with that.”
“St. Francis Prep is the team to beat,” Holy Cross head coach Joe Gravagna agreed.
Junior Robert Glinka expects to play at the first singles position for Holy Cross.
Archbishop Molloy, in the ‘B’ division, will rely on senior Alex Tokarz and sophomore Kemet Dugue to play first and second singles, respectively. Molloy head coach Matt Hunter is setting his sights on winning the city ‘B’ championship. McClancy is an upset threat with a deep lineup; twenty-two candidates, according to head coach Walter Sanchez, tried out for the team.
The goals are different over at St. John’s Prep, whose Fabian Chong is the only new head coach in the league. Last year there wasn’t a tennis program at the school.
“We’re trying to build a program,” Chong said. “We’ll try to do our best. We are young and green.”
Over in the PSAL, favorite Benjamin Cardozo is flexing its muscles, with St. Francis Prep transfer Petros Georgiou a new addition at first doubles. Bayside, Forest Hills, and Francis Lewis hope to challenge.
“Forest Hills is getting stronger every year and, along with us, should run away with our division,” Cardozo head coach Howard Arons said. “The PSAL made the ‘A’ division small and put more teams in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ divisions so that these schools will be more competitive for the players.”
Among the best players in Queens are Cardozo’s Jonathan Raude, Wei Lin, and Roland John; Forest Hills’ Nick Zikos and Justin Vijungco; Bayside’s Daniel Kandinov; and Francis Lewis’ Dan Lakhman.
“Brooklyn Tech, Cardozo and Beacon are the top three schools in the city,” said Arons, whose team hopes to go all the way in the Mayor’s Cup.