By: Haley Hunt, Tenacity Intern and Special Correspondent
The Staniar Open is Tenacity’s biggest tournament for 6th grade students. It is for Tenacity athletes what a Grand Slam tournament is for professional tennis players: the event that makes all of their training worthwhile.
Just four players from each site earn the chance to represent their schools at this event. Throughout the season, coaches kept a close watch on their players’ performance. Unlike the professional circuit, however, on-court success is not the only component used to determine qualification. The players’ sportsmanship, receptivity to coaching, attention to directions, leadership, and work ethic, are all factors that contribute to who makes the team.
The Staniar Open is played round robin style, and each school competes in a 1st doubles and 2nd doubles flight. The top two teams from each flight face off in a final. After the round robin and finals, total number of games won are tallied, and the team with the most games won, wins the event.
When it was all said and done, the Mary E. Curley Flying Lions won this year’s Staniar Open. The victory marks an unprecedented 3-peat for the Curley and their coach, Payne Schanski.
This season, the Curley has seized every opportunity to showcase their dominance as a top team. Their near perfect regular season record and their dual qualification for the finals at the Staniar bolster this claim.
The JMann also put in a strong performance at the Staniar. The Tigers battled their way to a second place finish, including winning the first doubles flight. Based on that result, Abdu Alfageeh and Dilon Portillo can claim the title of “best 6th grade doubles team” in all of Tenacity.
The Umana’s performance at the Staniar Open was consistent with their already excellent record. From the moment they stepped out on the Harvard courts, the team clinched several close matches. While not quite mustering the points for the team title, the Umana’s 2nd doubles team, Elijah Canales and Perla Ortiz, did emerge as the flight champion.
The Washington Irving also competed tough throughout the event. Both of their doubles teams were in the hunt to qualify for the finals, but got edged out. Their first doubles team, Damian Palomin and Joevanny Wright, got particularly hot toward the end of the event, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Irving Warriors were in the hunt though and will learn from this near miss.
The DMC also strung together a terrific set of wins, but fell just short. Nonetheless, the team’s strong showing speaks to their immense growth as a program, especially after facing a regular season record of 1-4. With just a few points separating the top schools, they can confidently consider themselves a part of the leading group. The DMC also earned the most spirit points at this event, outfitted as they were in intimidating blue headbands.
The Frederick also played hard and had some great moments. Their team approached each match with outstanding sportsmanship, grit, and positivity. Their players battled through some tough competition, but ultimately fell just short of sealing those tossup matches.
Looking forward to next week, the top seventh and eighth grade players from these schools will take the court during Friday’s action at the eleventh annual Crane Cup Championship.
Entry List (schools listed in order of finishing place)
Mary E. Curley School:
*1st flight: Phillip Pepin & Dave Ebanks
*2nd doubles: Alex Castaneda & Amber Solo
Jackson Mann School:
**1st flight: Abdu Alfageeh & Dilon Portilllo
2nd flight: Mohamud Aden & Emmanuel Mbah
Mario Umana Academy:
1st flight: Eric Guthrie Jr. & Luis Ortiz
**2nd flight: Elijah Canales & Perla Ortiz
John W. McCormack School:
1st flight: Jomar Baez & Emmanuel George
2nd flight: Dijimmy Brutus and Elijah Macfee
Washington Irving School:
1st flight: Damian Palomin & Joevanny Wright
2nd flight: Saurahya Milien & Sarah Solomon
Lilla G. Frederick Pilot School:
1st flight: Omar Ocasio & Lauren Furtado
2nd flight: Stephanie Deas & Aanaiya Mendez
*= denotes finalist