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Sixth grader is a slamming success

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Tennis player Dan Kerznerman is a name to watch out for in future years, and he’s only in the sixth grade.

A resident of Sheepshead Bay and a student at Bay Academy, 1401 Emmons Avenue, Kerznerman was one of the top players at the Mayor’s Cup All Scholastic Tournament.

In the Boys Middle School Tennis League singles championship, he started off strong winning the first three of four games from Richard Del Nunzio.

Then in the fifth game, Kerznerman couldn’t get his game and strokes together and continued the same during the second set as Del Nunzio turned him back, 6-3, 6-2, in the championship match of the boys’ middle school division of the Mayor’s Cup.

Just playing the entire week-long tournament at the site of the United States Open Tournament, the US Tennis Association National Tennis Center in Queens, was a thrill for all the participants, especially Kerznerman.

“It was nice playing here,” said Kerznerman. “The atmosphere was good here, and I like the courts.”

The local faced a player with more experience and who is bigger and stronger. Del Nunzio is almost two years older than his opponent and outweighs him by about 50 pounds.

“Del Nunzio is a very good player, too, has a big forehand and is strong,” Bay Academy Coach Adrian Buchhalter said.

Eventually Del Nunzio’s power overcame Kerznerman. Serve and forehand were the basic winning weapons. Because Del Nunzio is much taller than Kerznerman, the latter held a disadvantage going into the match and found it hard to win on his serve. Del Nunzio served big, played aggressive, got to the net, tried to attack his forehand, and started playing smarter as the match progressed.

“Dan is a great athlete, is young and will get stronger,” said Buchhalter, who has been coaching Bay Academy and Reynolds Junior High for 22 years. “He’s the best kid I’ve ever seen. And we had a lot of Mayor Cup Middle School champions.”

Kerznerman also happened to be the number one singles player at Bay Academy, which captured the Mayor’s Cup Middle School team title on the previous weekend.

The young athlete gives credit to Coach Buchhalter, who gave him pointers, and helped him develop his game with his serve, various strokes and shots. In match play at times the youngster would use a two-handed backhand.

Kerznerman will continue his tennis throughout the summer at the Cedar Brook Country Club in Glen Head, Long Island. During the school year also spent some time there under Coach Nick Brebnel.

“He’s the most improved player in his section,” Brebnel said. “He [was the] runner up in the Super National Tournament and placed first on the national team. He’s one of the most talented and hard-working juniors for 12-year-olds in the United States.”

Nationally ranked in the 12s, Kerznerman is a player on the rise and hopes one day to play in big tournaments at the National Tennis Center.

“By watching pro players in action, I learn about their attitude, how hard they try and how good their shots are,” he said.

In addition to school tournaments, he also competes in Junior Tournaments, sanctioned by The USTA.

In other divisions of the Mayor’s Cup tournament, in the boys varsity high school one, third seeded Jeff Kessler of Xaverian, a 2003 winner of the Mayor’s Cup, reached the semi-final, where he lost to Milo Hauk of the Beacon School 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, and in the girls middle school singles final, favorite Becky Shtilkind of IS 98 defeated Arana Rodriguez of St. John’s Chrysostom in the Bronx 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. In doubles it was a family affair, as championship winners and sisters Elizabeth and Anna Tsvetkov of IS 98 defeated runners up Isadora Braune and Sara Levy-Lambert of MS 167 in Manhattan 6-3, 6-2, and championship winners and brothers Hugh and Douglas Mo of MS 67 in Queens defeated runners up and brothers Leon and Jeffrey Pan of IS 239 (2401 Neptune Avenue) 6-1, 6-0.

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