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Cardozo tennis still the kings of Queens

Their opponent across the net...

By Dylan Butler

It was the first time Howie Arons ever remembered being nervous before a league match. After all, the longtime Cardozo boys’ tennis coach could have napped through much of the Judges’ 19 straight years of Queens dominance.

Their opponent across the net last Thursday — Townsend Harris — has never beaten Cardozo in its 21 years of existence.

And they didn’t beat them last Thursday as the Judges remained the Kings of Queens with a convincing 4-1 win over previously undefeated Townsend Harris at windy Cardozo.

“This match has been on my mind for about nine months,” Arons said. “We’ve never lost to any team in Queens since 1985. That’s a nice string, you know.”

For a long time Cardozo was not just the only team in Queens but in the PSAL as well. But last year the Judges saw their streak of 15 straight city titles snapped by Brooklyn Tech.

Townsend Harris was never much of a match for Cardozo but that was before highly ranked freshmen Sean Doerfler and Michael Malhame — whose brothers John and Jim were part of the Judges’ dynasty — joined Townsend Harris, spurning Arons and Cardozo along the way.

And along with junior Ari Gayer, Townsend Harris has become a city powerhouse and a major challenge to mighty Cardozo.

“I think it’s the first time in a while we had a (regular) season match we thought we could lose,” said Cardozo senior Alex Dobrin. “We were all worried, Howie especially.”

But last Thursday Gayer was the only win for the Hawks, beating friendly rival Dobrin in first singles, 10-5, as many of the Townsend Harris players, especially freshmen Doerfler and Malhame, struggled with the windy conditions.

“At the end I was playing a little better, a little more aggressive,” Gayer said. “In the beginning I was a little more tentative because I’m not used to playing outdoors.”

Ariel Fiul defeated Doerfler, ranked No. 1 in the USTA Eastern 14s, 10-8 in second singles, and Jae Yoon topped Malhame, who was being heckled by his older brothers, 10-5 in third singles.

“I hope next time we play better,” Malhame said. “We just have to win next time.”

Cardozo swept both doubles matches as David Chen and Steven Niemen beat Sotiris Georgiou and Matthew Kirschner, 10-7, and Roman Ashyman and Ben Philip defeated Ethan Felder and Dain Lee, 10-6.

“As much as they wanted to win today, I think they were scared,” first-year Townsend Harris coach Robin Figelman said of her young team. “They won’t admit it, but they were scared.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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