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Featherston leads Prep to city crown

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Kilby Featherston saw Xavier players celebrating on the courts around him. His coach, John Brennan, looked distressed. Along with partner Joe Henehan, he had just dropped the first set.

The junior didn’t need it spelled out for him — St. Francis Prep’s fourth-straight CHSAA Class A city championship May 25 hinged on his first doubles match with Henehan, a first-year senior.

“When the other parts of your team [are] lacking, you have to pick it up,” he said.

Featherston backed up those words with a dominant back two sets, pushing the inexperienced Henehan with words of encouragement and his own play. The two prevailed 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 over Matt Filippi and Anthony Lacqua to lead the Terriers to a 3-2 victory over Xavier at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.

“The most important thing is how much you want it,” St. Francis Prep Coach John Brennan said. “I know how bad he wants it. He was not gonna lose that match. That’s what he just told me, and he proved it.”

The first doubles victory saved the league from having to make a decision on the Knights’ controversial lineup. According to Brennan, league rules stipulate that a team’s playoff lineup cannot be different than that of the regular season, yet second-year Coach Jessica Garcia went with Filippi, the usual second singles player, in first doubles and third singles Sean Lee at second doubles. Lee and Andrew Lacqua knocked off Dillon Hogan and Chris Zipf 6-2, 7-2 (7-2). Nick Saffran fell to St. Francis Prep’s Chris Jimenez 6-0, 6-0 in place of Filippi at second singles.

Brennan explained the rules to Garcia before the match, but she refused to change her lineup, explaining that Saffran earned the promotion during practices. “I don’t think it’s something that needs to be paraded around,” said Garcia, who declined to further comment. Admitting it was his first doubles match of the year, Filippi said, “We had practices and we went with our best players.”

Brennan wasn’t buying the excuse. He felt Garcia figured she would win at first singles, where Thomas Klosinski, a highly ranked and undefeated senior, did indeed prevail 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) over David Arroyave and sweep the doubles matches.

“I don’t like losing, I’m not gonna tell you I like losing, but I don’t mind losing legitimate­ly,” Brennan said. “But when you’ve beaten a team 5-0 and 4-1 and all of a sudden guys are playing all over the place, it’s obvious.”

Featherston and Henehan made it a moot point. Featherston wasn’t nearly as concerned with facing Filippi as he was the poor first set he played. “Let’s focus on the match,” he told Henehan.

Prior to the second set, Featherson advised Henehan to relax and focus on each shot. Slowly, the two got into a groove, playing mistake-free tennis while mixing in several winners.

“I was confident,” said senior third singles Laurent Octobre, who topped Xavier’s Justin Nadler 6-1, 6-1. “I knew Kilby wasn’t going to let us down.”

St. Francis Prep’s season isn’t over yet. In fact, the burgeoning program is hopeful it can join the girls — winners of 171 straight matches and 10 Mayor’s Cup crowns — when it comes to the Mayor’s Cup. Brennan said there were four or five good teams, including the Terriers, on even footing. They beat PSAL champion Beacon, last year’s Mayor’s Cup champion, in a recent scrimmage.

The program has come far in recent years, from four straight undefeated league seasons to now expecting to compete with the best the city has to offer.

“We’re in the ballpark with the best teams,” Brennan said.

Salesian tops Xaverian for ‘B’ title: Salesian won the CHSAA Class B title, besting Xaverian 4-1. In first singles, Salesian’s Michael Wallace topped Xaverian’s Daniel Witke 6-0, 6-2; in second singles, Salesian’s Nick Davis straight-setted Xaverian’s Joe Azevedo 6-0, 6-2; and in third singles, Salesian’s Vinny D’Allesandro got the best of Xaverian’s Peter Acquafredda 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Salesian’s Miguel Gallardo and Frank Eichner beat Xaverian’s Zach Valero and Albert Batch 6-4, 6-3 while Xaverian’s Rolando Rabot and Axel Barias knocked off Salesian’s Brendan Capriles and Carlos Meder 6-3, 6-2.

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