Semifinals: Stuyvesant Smokin’ Aces 3, Brooklyn Technical Engineers 2
In the Smokin’ Aces’ semifinal match against the Engineers, the final score of 3-2 does not fully display the dominance Stuyvesant had over its opponents.
Led by seniors and co-captains Christopher Jou and Leon Pan, and coach Timothy Pon, Stuyvesant shut out Francis Lewis High School in the quarterfinals, and moved onto a Brooklyn Tech team that was handicapped by the loss of their best player, but dangerous nonetheless. “We expected a win but we knew we were going to have to dig deep to win. And with their first singles not being here, it just lifted our spirits,” Jou said.
The first singles match featured Jou, the number one ranked player in the city, who dominated his opponent 6-2 and 6-1, as expected. Jou controlled the pace of the game, forcing his opponent into bad shots and capitalizing on his mistakes. “This is just something we’ve come to expect from Chris,” junior Hayden Karp-Hecker said.
In the following second singles’ match, Pan dominated his opponent in the first set and shut him out 6-0. Pan’s opponent began to aggressively fight back in the second set, which fustrated Pan, but he was able to keep his focus and prevail 6-4.
With Stuyvesant leading 2-0, the pressure to clinch the win was put on the back of standout freshman Victor Miglo. Miglo got the job done and continued his trend of dominating his opponents, winning 6-2 and 6-0. “Victor performed to the level we expected and he got us the clinching wins a lot of the times which is a great contribution to the team,” Pan said.
With this win, the Smokin’ Aces technically won the matchup by winning the necessary three games out of five. “I expected a very close match but we basically won the match through only our singles players,” Pon said.
The two doubles matches, while not they did not affect the outcome of the match, proved to be the only blemish on Stuyvesant’s victory. Juniors Hayden Karp-Hecker and Peter Becht kept up the intensity, winning the first set 6-1 and making Brooklyn Tech’s players look lost and out of sync. However, the Engineers battled back and took the close second set 7-6 before they capitalized on their momentum to take the third set 6-3 and give the Engineers their first win of the day.
Senior Pavel Shapturenka partnered with freshman Leonard Margolis in the second doubles match, losing the first set 6-3 before taking a hotly contested second set 7-6 and eventually losing the third 6-2.
With this semifinal win, the Smokin’ Aces earned a spot in the PSAL A Division championship, facing the first seeded Beacon.
Finals: Beacon Blue Demons 5, Stuyvesant Smokin’ Aces 0
Fifteen sets were all that separated the Smokin’ Aces from an elusive achievement: winning the PSAL Championship. It would not be an easy task since Stuyvesant was up against the Beacon High School Blue Demons, who have won the PSAL championship four times in the last five years. “We knew we were up against a very tough team,” coach Timothy Pon said. “Beacon is just too good. We just wanted to give them a good game.”
The Smokin’ Aces ended up being blanked by the Blue Demons, losing both doubles matches and two of the three singles matches in just two sets in best-of-three matches in the championship game on Thursday, May 17.
Senior and co-captain Christopher Jou, who is described by Pon as “one of the three best players I’ve ever had on my teams,” lost 6-4 in one of his first singles matches to Beacon star Christian Waldron in one of the closest matches of the game. The third singles match between Stuyvesant freshman Vicor Miglo and Beacon sophomore Maxwell Smith was close as well, with two 6-4 Beacon victories. The rest of the matchups produced lopsided 6-0 and 6-1 scores.
The difficulty of beating Beacon has been taken into account by the Stuyvesant players. “This is our first time in the finals in ten years, so it’s pretty big. We always know that the Beacon team is very good and pretty deep,” senior and co-captain Leon Pan said. “We were defeated by them a few times in the regular season so we were hoping to compete and pull out a few wins, but we couldn’t do that.”
Stuyvesant ended the season with a 9-3 record, staying consistent with their one-game improvements over the last three years, and also finished in second place in their A3 division, right behind Beacon.
The impending loss of the two senior captains, who were arguably the best players on the team, is the start of a new era for the Stuyvesant Smokin’ Aces. “It’s going to be a great loss, with Chris and Leon leaving,” Pon said. “Not only are they great players, but leaders too. They will be greatly missed. But next year we will build a very good team with our promising freshmen.”
In retrospect, Pan and Jou’s four-year tenure on the Stuyvesant Smokin’ Aces made them appreciate the coaching they received, as well as the foundation they built in a team sport. “[Pon] gave us moral support and some tactics to tell us how to beat the other team,” Pan said. “He gives good advice.”
Junior Peter Becht echoed his coach’s sentiment. “This time we had really strong seniors who led the team, but next year we will have strong upperclassmen,” he said. “I’m definitely optimistic for next season.”