Player to Watch: Ethan Leon, Beacon
The Beacon Blue Demons captured their ninth consecutive PSAL “A” Division Championship last spring, downing Brooklyn Tech 4-1, continuing the school’s tradition of being the best team in New York City.
Beacon looks primed to be the favorite once again this spring, and that is despite losing its top singles player from last year, Ameer Hosain. A big reason for that is sophomore Ethan Leon, who played second singles a year ago, and will jump up to the top spot in the lineup this year.
“It was very memorable being a part of that team last year,” said Leon. “I was only a freshman last year and the feeling of winning in general is great, but just being a part of a team that helps each other and is very connected was great. Playing first singles this year and trying to continue the tradition is great because I am going to have to learn to be a leader. I do feel a little pressure on my shoulders because my team is counting on me to carry them to another championship, but it is really exciting and hopefully we can capture our 10th title.”
Leon will take over as team captain, along with Felix Levine, and the two will give Beacon a potent singles lineup to go along with a deep roster.
"Ethan is an intense competitor," said Beacon Head Coach Bayard Faithfull. "He has great court sense and constructs points well. He has great hands at net. He has a rare ability to take on opponents who are much bigger and stronger than he is, and use their power to his advantage."
Although he understands his responsibility and knows he will have a lot of pressure playing first singles, Leon is ready for the challenge. He feels has matured as a person and as a player from a year ago, something he credits to a newfound mentality.
“I’d like to give thanks to my teacher Ms. Barbara Solowey who I think has helped me improve my game on the tennis court,” said Leon, citing a philosophy course he took earlier this school year. “It has given me a sense of peace when I play, so I am not getting as frustrated as I did last year. I learned how to be one with myself and to know that things happen sometimes and you have to deal with it. I also feel like the bond between the team has grown since last year, which brought a lot of trust which is important because I don’t feel like I have do to everything for my teammates, and vice-versa.”
Leon and his teammates have great confidence in each other which is derived from their success and experience together. Beacon has a target on its back each and every match they play because of its domination over the last decade, but with Leon leading the way this year, the Blue Demons are poised to win a remarkable 10th straight city title.
Beacon will open up its season with a home match against the High School for American Studies.
Teams to watch
Beacon High School
It would be impossible to write a boys high school preview for New York City and not begin with Beacon. The Blue Demons have won nine consecutive PSAL “A” Division titles after triumphing over Brooklyn Tech 4-1. If there was ever a year for a team to snap Beacon’s streak it was last year as the Blue Demons were comprised of a lot of young players, throwing out a lineup comprised of three freshman, three sophomores and a junior. Despite losing top singles player Ameer Hosain from last season, Ethan Leon and Felix Levine are talented singles players with now added experience, and Beacon has the talent and pedigree to up its streak to 10 straight city titles, and will once again be the team to beat in New York City.
The Engineers of Brooklyn Tech were the team that Beacon defeated in last year’s final and will no doubt be a top team this coming season. Last year’s top seed, Brooklyn Tech no longer have Philip Raytburg and Bojidar Todorov, its second and third singles players from last year, but still have first singles player Samuel Vagner to lead the way, as well as talented young players who are eager to fill the void of the graduating senior class.
The only team that finished ahead of Bronx Science in the Bronx/Manhattan A3 League last season was the eventual city champion Beacon, but the Wolverines should give it a run for its money this season. It’s top three singles players were all sophomores last season and are some of the best players in the Eastern Section: Lantis Wang, Jonah Jurick and Alexander Chiu. This three-headed monster will make Bronx Science a tough match for anyone, and it also possess doubles depth, including last year’s first doubles tandem of Neeraj Sakhrani & Alexander Goldstein.
Much like Beacon and Bronx Science, Stuyvesant’s team was made up of a bunch of young players a year ago which should only make it that much better this spring. Led by Nicholas Pustilnik, now a junior, at first singles, the Hitmen lost to Brooklyn Tech in the semifinals of the city tournament last season, and should once again make a deep run in the playoffs. Joining Pustilnik on their singles card is Derek Lung and Michael Kaydin who are also both juniors, and the team is losing just one player from last year’s starting lineup.
The Townsend Harris Hawks are under new guidance this year, as Jeffrey Menaker, the former coach of the Stuyvesant and Bronx Science girls tennis teams, takes over as the Townsend Harris coach. Despite losing third singles player Daniel Corona, the Hawks will be led by two seniors at the top, Maxim Prohorov and Mitchell Mu, at first and second singles, respectively, which should make it the team to beat in Queens, and allow them to push some of the top teams in all of New York City. Despite losing in the quarterfinals last year, don’t be surprised if Townsend Harris is one of the last few teams standing at the end of the year.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com