Fort Hamilton tennis team still feeling championship glow

Originally published in Brooklyn Reporter

BAY RIDGE — It has been months since the Fort Hamilton High School girls’ tennis team won the city championship, but the school’s excitement and pride are showing no signs of slowing down.

“We’re all still excited about the championship and what the girls did for our school. They’re still beaming,” Fort Hamilton Athletic Director Kim Tolve told the Home Reporter.

The Fort Hamilton Tigers defeated the team from the Queens School of Inquiry in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) Championship on Oct. 28, capping off a perfect 10-0 season.

The team members are Alisa Akopyan, Julia Alesamentova, Angelina Bittan, Barbara Carrion, Isabella Gomez, Yong Tong Li, Madeline Mayer, Diana Pankiv, Sevinch Rakhmatdinova, Katherine Shmandina, Brigitte Ung-Sansaricq, Analise Velamisa and Marcela Zhen.

While the school celebrated the big win and Borough President Eric Adams hosted the team at Borough Hall, the championship was quickly followed by New York State Regents exams, the Christmas holidays and winter break, during which the school was closed.

But the celebration picked up again a few weeks ago, when two Bay Ridge lawmakers, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Councilmember Justin Brannan, stopped by the school at 8301 Shore Rd. to congratulate the team.

“We had breakfast with the senator and councilman. They presented us with certificates,” Tennis Team Coach Muad Nagi told the Home Reporter. “It was wonderful. They treated us with so much respect.”

Gounardes, who is a Fort Hamilton graduate, said he was impressed by the team and by what the championship represents.

“Congrats to the FHHS Girls’ Tennis Team for their championship win! As a proud Fort Hamilton Tiger, I applaud the team for being the exemplification of persistence, teamwork and skill. Our public schools do so much to foster a love of sports in our students from a young age, providing great benefits for mental and physical health. As a community, let’s applaud the FHHS Girls’ Tennis Team for a great season!” Gounardes said.

The team members provide a great example, according to Brannan.

“Fort Hamilton should be proud of the extraordinary group of girls they have who won the tennis championship this year. Not only are they fierce competitors on the court but I was impressed with their level of commitment and desire to represent their school and their community. They are great examples of how persistence and teamwork pays off and I salute their amazing accomplishment,” Brannan said.

The secret to the team’s success could be summed up in one word, according to Nagi.

“Commitment,” he said.

“They were fully committed. They have heart. I told them at the start of the season that if they want to win a championship, they have to step it up a notch. They worked hard in practice. I had them in the weight room and they worked hard there, too. They worked hard and it paid off,” the coach said.

Ung-Sansaricq, who is a senior, excels in two sports, tennis and lacrosse. “She is amazing. We’re very happy for her,” Tolve said.

The city championship has given the team members more confidence, Nagi said. “It every way, it has given them confidence. And that’s so important. If you have confidence in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”