The Stuyvesant Hitmen’s second doubles team lobbed the ball over their Bronx Science opponents, who proceeded to smash an overhead at the Hitmen. Senior and co-captain Julian Neuman reacted quickly, hitting a tweener, a between-the-legs shot, for a winner past his opponents. The substitutes and spectators cheered for Stuyvesant as Neuman and senior and co-captain Zachary Wakefield high-fived to celebrate the point. They would go on to lose the match 8-2, but still managed to maintain a high level of energy throughout.
Tweener winners were not uncommon in Neuman’s matches this season. “[Neuman’s] nickname on the team is J-Tweener due to his prodigious skill for hitting tweeners,” Wakefield said. Neuman was an important asset to the Hitmen this year, bringing with him a 4-2 regular season record in doubles.
The Hitmen went 7-3 this season, losing only to the schools ranked higher than them in the Bronx/Manhattan A3 League: Beacon and Bronx Science. Their strong finish in the regular season helped them earn the seventh seed in the playoffs. In their first playoff match, they played against New Dorp, and they were able to defeat the school in a swift 5-0 win. The victory propelled the team into quarterfinals.
The quarterfinals match for the Hitmen was on Friday, May 26th against Bronx Science. Though the rivalry between the two schools had been fierce during the regular season, the Wolverines prevailed easily over the Hitmen, winning with a score of 5-0. At their first meeting this year, the Hitmen had defeated the Wolverines, and the early win had boosted the confidence level of the team. During the playoff game, some of the Hitmen had been expecting a result similar to their first encounter with the Wolverines. “[The] match was very disappointing; we all went in very optimistically,” Wakefield said. However, the Hitmen did not go down without a fight, as every match had an air of tension around it.
The first singles match between junior Nicholas Pustilnik and Bronx Science’s Jonah Jurick was particularly competitive. Pustilnik had a 7-2 record from the regular season, while Jurick was just 4-2. Each player held his own service game until Jurick was up 5-4, and managed to break Pustilnik’s serve and rhythm to win the match at 8-4.
Though the early loss in playoffs was disappointing, the season was very successful for the Hitmen, both against previous rivals and as a team. Many of the seniors held a deep sense of gratitude toward both their coaches and teammates. “I love my team and coach to death and feel very sad that I have to leave this year,” Wakefield said.
Moving forward, the graduation of seniors on the team this year will be detrimental to the Hitmen’s starting lineup. In order to fill these voids, more of the sophomores and freshmen must step up. “Albert Wan, Robin Han, and Nick Chan were key components of the team and will continue to be for the foreseeable future,” Neuman said. With the potential of these up-and-coming Hitmen, the team will be more successful in the future seasons and playoffs. “I’m hopeful next year the team could compete for championships,” Neuman said.
“Being a part of Stuy tennis for four years has been a great experience, in particular, our coach, Marv Autry, is a real inspiration to everyone on the team,” said Neuman when asked about the highlights of this season. Overall, the Hitmen are more than satisfied with their performance this year, as players focused more on enjoying the teamwork of the game alongside its competitiveness.