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Clarke poised for bright future

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A successful regular season for the Clarke boys’ tennis team this spring sets the Rams up for a postseason run in 2020.

Clarke (12-2) knocked off every team in Conference IIIA with the exception of North Shore, who handed the Rams their only two defeats. The second place finish left Clarke just short of earning the league’s lone playoff bid, but enables a promotion next year up to Conference II where more postseason slots are awarded.

“We had an amazing season,” Clarke coach Adnen Ayari said. “I’m very happy with what we accomplished.”

Eighth grader Ansh Chdha stepped into the number one single’s role after competing on junior varsity as a seventh grader last year. Chdha went 12-2 and qualified for the Nassau County individual championships as the only middle school player in the tourney.

“He is very mature for his age,” said Ayari of Chdha. “He has a lot of poise and is very coachable.”

Chdha fared well in the county championships held at Eisenhower Park on May 11 winning his first match against North Shore’s Derrick Kornapay. He then went toe-to-toe with third-seeded Niles Ghaffar of Massapequa before dropping a closely contested two-set match.

“It was a great experience for him to face the big players,” Ayari said. “I’m very proud of him.”

Seniors Arjun Panickssery and Roman Bueno competed hard at the number two and three singles spots, respectively.  Their final record was not reflective of their effort with both dropping many close matches throughout the season.

The third doubles duo of senior John Khashan and junior Matthew Michaelis shined in their final season on the court together with a 13-1 record. The pair also went 13-1 last year for a 26-2 record over their two years teaming up.

“They have very good chemistry with each other,” said Ayari of Khashan and Michaelis. “They worked very well together.”

Henry Qi and David Kryzhanovskiy were also instrumental in Clarke’s success this season as the team’s number one double’s unit. Josh Zirkel and Eshan Shakrani competed in the number two doubles slot. The fourth doubles team featured Jonathan Huang and Jake Singer.

Clarke’s singles and doubles teams swept all of their matches six times this season capped by a 7-0 win at Hicksville on May 9. The Rams ended the season a day later on a positive note with a 4-3 win at Carle Place.

Coach Ayari is excited about next season and competing in a higher conference with better odds of extending the season deeper into May. Clarke graduates 10 seniors, but has plenty of young talent returning ready to take on the challenge.

Ayari said this year’s senior laden team left a strong foundation through their work ethic on and off the court. He credits the veterans for fostering strong team chemistry and also pushing the younger players to improve their games both on the practice court and through film sessions.

“They were very competitive in practices and pushed each other to get better,” Ayari said. “The motivation they gave each other was special to see.”