Becky Shtilkind had accomplished virtually everything she could as a high school tennis player, helping lead Leon Goldstein from obscurity to back-to-back PSAL championships and the elusive Mayor’s Cup team title.
There was just one thing missing, one final hurdle before going off to Stony Brook University – the Mayor’s Cup individual title.
Shtilkind can check that off her list after beating Cardozo’s Rebecca Fakas, 6-1, 6-0 at the USTA National Tennis Center Sunday afternoon.
“It feels so much better than I thought it would,” Shtilkind said. “It feels like the perfect way to end my high school career, winning the [Mayor’s Cup] team [championship]. The individual is like the cherry on top.”
Sunday’s win makes up for a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Manuela Velasquez in last year’s Mayor’s Cup individual final.
“It was a really tough match,” Shtilkind said. “It was really sad when I lost, I was upset with myself, disappointed.”
Shtilkind put that loss, and a painful foot injury that kept her from competing in the PSAL team finals, behind her and closed out her storied high school career in style Sunday.
“I felt really good coming in today,” she said. “I had a little warm-up before the match to get rid of the butterflies in my stomach before the final and I came in loose and ready to go.”
Shtilkind’s victory comes on the heels of Goldstein’s 3-2 win over St. Francis Prep in the Mayor’s Cup team final last weekend at the National Tennis Center. It snapped the Terriers streak of 12 consecutive Mayor’s Cup titles and 203 straight victories.
“Beating St. Francis and winning Mayor’s Cup as a team for the first time and breaking that streak was historic,” she said.
Now Shtilkind, who was on the cover of the spring issue of MSG Varsity The Magazine, is putting high school tennis behind her, ready to begin a new chapter of her life at Stony Brook. And she’ll do so with plenty of wonderful memories of her time at Goldstein.
“I think I’ll remember where we started from and how we finished, that entire improvement we made from a team that didn’t ever even win our division in
Brooklyn to PSAL champions and Mayor’s Cup champions,” Shtilkind said.
Kochman claims Mayor’s Cup boys title
Jeremy Kochman had already defeated Horace Mann’s Andrew Arnaboldi in two sets during the season, but knew their match in the Mayor’s Cup final Sunday afternoon would be different.
“The first set I really came out and took it to him, but then the second set I got a little tired, he picked up his game,” he said. “The next thing I know I’m in a third set.”
The Poly Prep senior, who cramped up in the second set, regained his legs and powered through the third set to capture his first Mayor’s Cup title, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 at the USTA National Tennis Center.
“I just kept my composure and started playing a little more aggressive than I had in the second set and I got my legs back, which was huge,” Kochman said. “I was able to do more with the ball in the third set.”
Kochman said his five previous Mayor’s Cup matches this week, especially a marathon three-set quarterfinal win over Beacon’s Will Smith caught up with him in the second set.
“My legs were pretty beat in the second set, but I told myself I can’t let than pull me down and I kept it together and played a really strong third set,” Kochman said.
Kochman, who will play tennis at Lehigh next year, said he dreamed of winning a Mayor’s Cup title at the start of the year.
“I told myself that to be a city champion is my goal,” Kochman said. “I was the best player in the Ivy League this year, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I feel like I represented all the Ivy League schools that get overlooked in this sport.”
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