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The end of an era

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Enter the USTA National Tennis Center through the main lobby and it’s hard to miss. Pinned up to a bulletin board next to a vending machine as you near the door to the facility’s outdoor court area is a magazine article about Shinann Featherston. This is the place where the best tennis players in the world come every August to compete in the US Open, the place where countless memories have been made at this country’s predominant Grand Slam event.

But Featherston, a senior at St. Francis Prep and one of the best high-school tennis players Queens has seen in some time, adorns the bulletin board now.

So, you couldn’t blame Jillian Santos, a pretty darn good tennis player in her own right, when she got a little vexed being up 5-3 in the first set against the University of North Carolina-bound Featherston during the Mayor’s Cup final Sunday in Flushing.

“I think it got to me a little bit,” said Santos, Cardozo’s first singles player, who will play at Binghamton next year. “Like, ‘Oh my God, I can take a set off Shinann.’”

Featherston had not lost a set in a high-school match since she was a freshman in the state tournament. She didn’t lose one to Santos either. The Rockaway native came back to win, 7-5, 6-3, and St. Francis Prep dominated PSAL city champion Cardozo, 5-0, to capture its 11th straight Mayor’s Cup. The Terriers’ winning streak now stands at 144 matches.

For St. Francis, Paulina Syrnik beat Julia Passik at third singles, Vlada Grigoryeva and Nicole Rydzewski beat Stefanie Smith and Alexa Cohen at first doubles and Kathleen Uy and Madel Jurlano defeated Michele Romero and Deva Rashtrawar in second doubles.

The heir to Prep’s first singles throne is sophomore Shraddha Prabhu, who defeated Cardozo’s sensational freshman Leighann Sahagun in the match of the day.

“I’m not saying she’s a Shinann, but she’s a tough player,” St. Francis Prep coach John Brennan said. “I think at this point, Shraddha has moved to another level.”

But the Terriers, who have seven tournament-level players coming in next season, are so talented, the onus won’t be on Prabhu to be victorious every time.

“It’s a lot of pressure — it’s a little intimidati­ng,” she said of taking over for Featherston. “I don’t care if I drop a set as long as we win.”

Win? That’s all that St. Francis Prep girls’ tennis knows. And there’s no end in sight.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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