The Dragons’ Cinderella Season

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The third match began with Stuyvesant's handball team, the Dragons, down 2-0 and only one match away from their season ending in this best-of-5 game. With his back against the wall, third singles and sophomore Danny Wu felt the pressure to win this crucial contest. Unable to shift the momentum of the game, Wu lost the decisive game 21-8. After two more rounds, the Dragons lost 0-5, and their season ended with a first round playoff exit at the hands of New Utrecht High School.

The Dragons ended the 2016-2017 season deep into the playoffs, making it to the quarterfinals as the fifth seed last season. However, after their entire starting lineup graduated, the team was proud of what they accomplished this year. Coming into the 2017-2018 season, coach Bernard Feigenbaum believed the team would have to take a year to rebuild their lineup. However, this season did not feel like a rebuilding season, as they finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, second place in their Bronx/Manhattan division. Their only two losses came at the hands of undefeated Bronx Science. They were also able to clinch a playoff berth six games into the season, something Feigenbaum did not expect.

This unexpected finish was possible through a combination of hard work and improved play by upperclassmen. Senior and captain Alvin Chen led the team as the first singles, finishing the season with a 3-2 record with 5 aces and 7 kills. “[Chen] was his best player [in handball],” Feigenbaum said. “[I like] how Alvin set the tone early.”

Almost half of the team is comprised of seniors (five out of 13), and they made up the majority of the starting lineup. Only three starters remained on the team. To amplify this problem, Feigenbaum will not return to teach at Stuyvesant next year, perhaps making this his last season coaching.

However, there are eight returners on the team that will have a full year of practice to improve their skills. Sophomore and third singles Wu, who went 5-2 in the regular season with 20 aces, junior and second singles Hongbin Ye, and sophomore and second doubles player Oliver Cai, will all return next season to lead Stuyvesant hopefully back into the playoffs.

While many wrote the Dragons off early in the year, they were strong contenders for the divisional crown throughout the season. When asked to reflect on how he thought the season went, Chen was proud of the results. “I feel like this team has progressed relatively well. We started the beginning of the season mostly with players without any prior handball experience, and we managed to come out second in our division for the playoffs,” Chen said.