Xaverian Clippers Notch Boys’ ‘A’ Tennis Title

The Xaverian H.S. varsity boys’ tennis team capped off its second-straight undefeated season with its second consecutive CHSAA ‘A’ championship. (Photo: Courtesy of Alex Alfredo)

In any sport in our competitive CHSAA, capping off an undefeated season with a city championship is a monumental accomplishment.

Now picture doing that for two years in a row. It seems unheard of, right?

Not for the Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, boys’ varsity tennis team. The Clippers just turned in their second consecutive fully undefeated season resulting in a CHSAA ‘A’ division city championship.

How does a high school tennis team accom- plish this feat? It’s a mixture of dedication, put- ting in the extra work, building up confidence, meeting expectations, and sometimes just hoping the ball bounces your way.

Yet for this Xaverian squad, luck was the least of the factors in earning them the city title. The student-athletes consistently stayed late after practice or used their free time on the week- ends to keep improving.

The team’s head coach, Alex Alfredo, has been leading the program for two decades. He’s also the chair of Xaverian’s math department. After back-to-back city titles in 2005 and 2006, Alfredo’s recent string of championships puts his career total at four.

With six returning starters from last season, Alfredo knew his team would be special early on. New freshmen came in hungry to add to the program’s winning tradition, while the returners looked to build upon past success.

“From the first day of tryouts, as a team we set our expectations on returning to and winning the championship,” Alfredo said. “The boys expected it and could handle the pressure.”

So many talented players on the 13-man roster resulted in practices often being as competitive as matches. No one had a guaranteed roster spot, so they all worked hard to earn their positions. In high school tennis, three players play singles matches while another four team up for two sets of doubles. To beat their opponent, a team must capture three of the five matchups.

Seniors George Sfouggatakis, James Schmidt, and Robert Krute competed all season in first, second, and third singles, respectively. Xaverian’s first doubles duo featured sophomore John Paskowski and freshman George Robokos. Rounding out the second doubles duo was a rotation between juniors Giovanni DeSantis, Vincent Parente, and Bartosz Foremny.

Finishing the regular season undefeated led to the Clippers earning the No. 1 seed in the city playoffs. With homecourt advantage in the semifinals against Salesian H.S., New Rochelle, N.Y., Xaverian turned in an impressive 4-1 victory.

It was then on to the finals hosted June 5 at the National Tennis Center in Flushing. The opponent — Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst — was the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and defeated Archbishop Stepinac H.S., White Plains, N.Y., for a chance to take down the reigning champs.

The Clippers of course had other plans in mind. For the championship, all five matches occurred at the same time. Both doubles matches were over quickly, with Xaverian taking both. In second singles, Schmidt closed out his final season with a straight-set victory — capping off an improbable two-year run of not losing a single match.

About an hour after the first serve, Xaverian knew they would be city champs again. An additional victory in first singles by Sfouggatakis gave the Clippers a 4-1 win over the Crusaders.

“Last year our goals were more modest,” Alfredo said. “This year, we set the goal as any- thing less than a championship was going to be a disappointment — not even knowing what the other teams were going to be.”

For his career, Schmidt finished 22-2 — with those only two losses coming during his sophomore campaign. The St. Anselm, Bay Ridge, parishioner will attend Villanova University, Pa., and will try out for the tennis team.

“It’s still sinking in,” Schmidt said of the back-to-back undefeated city crowns. “There’s no better way of ending it than winning two in a row. We put in a lot of work at practice this year, and I knew some results would come out of it.”

There’s no magic formula to building a program that experiences sustained success. Instead, it’s a testament to the student-athletes themselves who develop the work ethic and drive to want to be great. As a coach, that’s the ultimate blessing.

“To have them put in the work and carry through with that, I can’t be any prouder of them and the work they did,” Alfredo
said. “They’ve really made the program what it is because of their commitment and dedication to the sport.”

Contact Jim Mancari via email at