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Lewis girls fall in city tennis finals

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Aretha Franklin sang about it and Monday at the National Tennis Center, the Francis Lewis girls tennis team earned it. While they lost 3-2 to Brooklyn Tech in the PSAL championship match, the Patriots got some R-E-S-P-E-C-T and proved they belong mentioned in the same breath as elite city teams Cardozo, Midwood and Stuyvesant.

“Last year we were fortunate to make it to the semifinals and our goal this year was to go further, to raise the bar,” said Lewis coach Wayne Zweigbaum. “Only two teams in the city reach the finals and it’s a tremendous accomplishment and I’m very proud. With their hard work, we have built a program.”

Leading the charge into the land of respectability was freshman Jennifer Elie, who battled defending Mayor’s Cup champion Sonia Ruzimosky to three sets, before falling 3-6, 6-4, 2-6 in first singles.

“I should have beaten her,” said the 14-year-old Fresh Meadows resident. “I usually come back in the second set. I was attacking her more so I could win the points quicker. But in the third set, I made too many mistakes.”

Because of inclement weather conditions, the championship was moved to the indoor courts at the National Tennis Center, but there were only two courts available instead of the five reserved outdoors. With only two matches going on at the same time, it meant all eyes were on Elie and Ruzimosky in a crowded viewing area above the courts.

Elie fell behind 5-1, but fought back to take the next two games before Ruzimosky, a Brooklyn Tech sophomore who is ranked No. 5 in the East in 18-and-under, broke her to win the first set, 6-3.

Elie, who is ranked 14th in the Eastern 15-and-under, roared back in the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before staving off a late challenge by Ruzimosky to take the set 6-4. But Ruzimosky took over the match in the third set by getting into a baseline battle with Elie and then stinging her with a nasty drop shot.

“I just had to change the game,” Ruzimosky said. “The drop shot was a good way to mix things up and take her by surprise. If I would have continued to hit with her on the baseline, it may have been a different story.”

Ruzimosky’s win gave Brooklyn Tech a commanding 2-0 lead, as Lya Kushnirovich defeated Lauren Wong in No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-0. Lewis avoided the sweep as the No. 1 doubles team of Stephanie Meng and Eileen Lim downed Olivia Kwa and Catherine Mercado, 6-2, 7-5.

“We’re used to playing outside where the ball is much slower. In here it was so much faster,” said Meng. “But we just had to adjust and work with what we had.”

Second doubles became the pivotal match, but the team of Anja Vojvodic and Estela Kwon fell 5-7, 2-6 to Monica Myers and Kimberly Chan as Brooklyn Tech celebrated its first-ever PSAL girls tennis crown.

Anita Kohli, one of only two Lewis senior starters, defeated Sarah Ed-Edlibi, 6-2, 6-4 in third singles.

“I’m so happy we made it to the finals,” Meng said. “What really put us on the map was making the semifinals last year. Each year we’re excelling. It’s only going to get better.”

Francis Lewis 3, Midwood 2. Kwon and Preya Singh won, 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 in No. 2 doubles and Kohli clinched the match with a 6-2, 7-5 win in the semifinals May 16 at the National Tennis Center as the Patriots avenged their 2000 semifinal loss.

Cardozo boys win 14th PSAL crown. Cardozo’s dominance in boys tennis continued Tuesday as the Judges defeated Hunter, 4-1 to win its 14th straight city title Tuesday at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club.

The lone loss for Cardozo (16-2) was in No. 1 singles as Efraim Kandinov fell to David Gopstein, ranked No. 1 in the ETA 18s, 6-2, 6-4. But Efraim’s twin brother Michael was able to make up for his brother’s loss, defeating Hunter junior Peter Rezmik, 6-2, 6-2 in No. 2 singles. Both Kandinovs are heading to the University of Indiana on tennis scholarships.

The Judges took the lead when John Malhame cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Nikhil Kumta in third singles and clinched the crown in second doubles as junior Rex Lam and sophomore Danny Zigman defeated Max Fraser and Michael Kornblatt, 6-2, 6-4.

With the title in toe, the Cardozo team watched the final set of first doubles where freshman Alex Dobin and senior Josh Liederman held off Jeffrey Wan and Matt Seiden, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6. Liederman, who is heading to Buffalo next fall, has never lost a PSAL match in his four-year career at Cardozo.

Hunter, which lost to Stuyvesant last year in the semifinals, dropped to 11-2.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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