Tag Archives: benjamin Cardozo High School

Benjamin Cardozo volleyball player is a dream on the court


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Anja Malesevic came to the U.S. in search of the American Dream, but she turned out to be the fantasy of every volleyball team.

Malesevic, who emigrated from Serbia in August, is finishing her senior year of high school at Benjamin Cardozo and is making waves as one of the city’s top volleyball players this season.

Following a victory against Francis Lewis on October 21, the Lady Judges are undefeated 8-0, and Malesevic leads the city in kills with 95 in seven matches. The next player has just 73.

“She’s a tremendous player,” said head coach Daniel Scarola. “She’s well-rounded in her skills and she hits really hard. She’s been a great gift to have.”

Scarola said he was informed that Malesevic, a long, sturdy outside hitter, was coming to the school over the summer. Since she grew up playing volleyball in Serbia, when the coach met her he instantly knew she was a great player.

“I was like ‘wow, the height, the athletic ability, it was just what we needed,” Scarola said.

When Malesevic first came to the country she said she had to overcome some challenges, such as the separation from her family and friends and using English as a primary language.

But she had no problems fitting in with the team.

“They were just so excited,” Malesevic said. “They wanted to know how tall I am and they accepted me from the first day.”

Malesevic, who towers over most of her teammates, is 6’2”. Her ability to spike the ball is a lethal weapon for the other players, who frequently look to feed her the ball for kills.

One of Cardozo’s key players, senior setter Zhan Cheng Yin, who had 20 assists in the game, leads the league in assists, 149, primarily because of Malesevic’s success.

Last year Yin had just 115 for the entire season.

With Malesevic, the Lady Judges are once again competitive and in the hunt for their seventh PSAL City Championship.

“I feel great helping these girls, this coach and this school,” Malesevic said. “It’s a huge step in my life. But I really like it here.”

 

PSAL QUEENS  A EAST GIRLS VOLLEYBALL STANDINGS – 10(23)2013

Benjamin Cardozo                                    9  -  0

Townsend Harris                                             5  -  3

Bayside High School                                      4  -  4

Francis Lewis                                                    4  -  4

Queens High School of Teaching              2  -  5

Martin Van Buren                                            0  -  8

 

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Survey says overcrowding problem at Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens schools are failing in at least one subject– classroom sizes.

Hillcrest High School in Jamaica ranked highest in the number of oversized classrooms, 400, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School follows with 385, according to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) survey.

More than 230,000 students citywide spent some of the first few weeks back to school in crowded classes, the study found. About 6,313 classes were overcrowded, up almost 200 from last year, but more than 1,000 of those classes were found in Queens high schools alone.

Overcrowding is a problem throughout the entire city school system, but “Queens high schools have been hit the worst,” the UFT said.

Class sizes around the city in grades 1 through 3 have now reached a 14-year high. Although they have not reached the classroom size limit of 32 seats, first and second grade has grown to an average of 24 seats per class, with 25 in third grade.

“It is time to take this issue seriously,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “All our students, especially our youngest children, desperately need smaller class sizes.”

Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that under his administration New York City schools had improved outstandingly on the academic side.

During his time in office many schools were shuttered, but more than new 650 schools were created. Bloomberg said 22 of the top 25 schools in the state are from New York City, and none were on that list before his administration.

“After 12 years reforming our once-broken school system, it’s clear that our hard work has paid huge dividends for our students,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

In fact, three Queens elementary schools, P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck,  Richmond Hillwere named to the prestigious national Blue Ribbon award for excellence in education on September 24.

Despite the academic improvements, the UFT said children shouldn’t have to try to learn in overcrowded classrooms.

“Twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of students start the school year in oversize classes,” Mulgrew said. “There is no excuse for letting students stay in an oversize class.”

 

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Tennis Ace: Cardozo freshman wins the Girls’ Singles Individuals Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Sabrina Xiong

Neal Baskin has been coaching for more than 40 years, and he knows talent.

So when Howie Arons, boys’ tennis coach for Benjamin Cardozo High School, told him there could be a prodigy coming to join the girl’s team last year, Basking said he would have to see her for himself.

“I respected Howie’s judgment, but until I see a player I can’t make my judgment,” Baskin said.

Baskin was convinced that the Lady Judges had found a special player after he met Sabrina Xiong and watched her try out for the team.

“I’m always looking for a ‘blue chip’ athlete to come in and that’s what she is,” Baskin said of his star player.

Xiong, 14, slipped into the lead singles role at Cardozo and took PSAL Division A girls’ tennis by storm, going undefeated in the regular season, 7-0, leading Cardozo to finish second in the league. She even breezed past upperclassmen to win the Girls’ Singles Individuals Tournament.

“Winning anything feels great,” Xiong said. “But it was good, especially since I was a freshman, and it was the first time I played on a school team. It was really nice having people support me.”

Baskin admitted the scary thing about the young girl from Fresh Meadows is the that fact that she is a freshman.

No PSAL player has won the singles title four years in row, but Xiong has set herself up to become the first.

“I’ll try my hardest,” Xiong said.

As Arons once pointed out, Xiong had long been big news on the city’s tennis radar before she entered Cardozo.

After her mom signed her up to take tennis lessons at the Billy Jean National Tennis Center when she was eight years old, Xiong just took off.

“At that time I thought maybe she needed to play some kind of sport,” said Jennifer Wang, Xiong’s mother. “But the coaches over there just kept putting her in the next level, and next level and next level.”

In 2010, when U.S. tennis legend John McEnroe opened up his tennis academy on Randall’s Island to foster young talented players, Xiong had developed a burning passion for the sport and went to try out for the program.

Approximately 175 aspiring players were judged on everything from swings, volleys and serves, to physical speed, strength and technical skills.

The field was shortened to about 25, and then six, who were personally evaluated by McEnroe himself.

Xiong aced the evaluation after playing with McEnroe, and earned a full scholarship.

Since then she has trained at the academy, practicing for nearly seven hours a day in the summer. During the school year she travels to the facility on Randall’s Island from 6 to 8 p.m., after completing homework.

“It’s a really good experience,” Xiong said. “It’s really intense and it keeps me motivated. Very few people get the chance to go to the academy and meet John [McEnroe]. And I get to hit with him sometimes.”

On some weekends she competes in United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments for her age group.

With the current No. 3 ranking in the USTA Eastern 14 and under division, she will compete in a Super National tournament in Florida this weekend.

Her success in a sport in which stars usually make their pro debut at an early age leaves many to wonder whether Xiong will be aiming to enter the professional field early.

However, right now she’s not thinking about it at all.

“I’ll wait a little a bit longer,” Xiong said. “I have to train more for that. I think education is my first priority. Getting into a really good college and playing there would be great, because I just want the experience of playing on a [college] team.”

 

A hit on the field


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Michael Pantelidis

For Anthony Kavalis, balancing school and sports is more than an obligation — it is a way of life. And even as the winter chill fills the air, Kavalis’ mind is still centered squarely on baseball.

The 16-year-old Bayside resident, who attends Benjamin Cardozo High School, has been playing organized sports for over a decade. He is currently a member of the Cardozo Junior Varsity Baseball team and the Saint Nicholas Church team of the Metropolitan Greek Orthodox Basketball League (MGOBL).

Despite his expertise as a shooting guard on the basketball court, Kavalis says his true home is a baseball outfield.

“Nothing is better than hitting a shot right in someone’s face in basketball, but my passion will always be playing baseball,” said Kavalis, who joined his first baseball team at age six. “I like playing the outfield because I feel a natural high when I make a catch. I get a rush when I have to make a quick throw to the infield to tag out a runner. It tests my reaction time and reflexes, and it also keeps me on my toes constantly. When I’m on a baseball field it just feels right, as if I am meant to be there.”

Although he enjoys displaying his defensive prowess, Kavalis is no slouch at the plate. In his sophomore season last year, he hit .563 with a .720 on-base percentage. Along with scoring 11 runs, he had 10 RBI and stole six bases.

One of his fondest memories from the season came when he had a bat in his hands during a critical situation for his team.

“I stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded,” said the teen slugger. “I was obviously trying to hit a grand slam, which is every child’s dream, but instead I crushed the ball over the right fielder’s head for a bases clearing triple. I would have liked to hit a homer, but I couldn’t complain because my team ended up getting the win.”

Cardozo completed the season 10-0 and was crowned Queens East Champions, while Saint Nicholas had a record of 12-0 before losing in the league championship game.

“It was amazing winning the title with Cardozo,” said Kavalis. “It’s nice to be rewarded for all your hard work and training. Even though I didn’t win with Saint Nicholas, we were undefeated and made it to the finals, and we will just have to work a little harder next year.”

Kavalis, who is as gifted with a book in his hands as he is with a baseball glove, also finished with nearly an “A” average last school year. He admits it is not easy being a student athlete, and that often, it is tempting to give less effort in one area.

“Juggling schoolwork and sports can be pretty complicated, especially when I have practice or a game,” said Kavalis. “That kind of stuff can frequently interfere with projects or tests. After playing nine innings of baseball, it can be hard to come home and study chemistry, but you have to buckle down and focus if you want to accomplish your goals on and off the field.”

He went on to say that if concessions must be made, it should not be in the classroom.

“School always comes first, and then come the extracurricular activities,” said Kavalis. “Everyone would love to be a superstar on the field, but that’s not always realistic. Succeed in school first, and then apply that work ethic to sports, and everything will be fine.”

After high school, Kavalis hopes to attend the University of North Carolina and wear the uniform of a Tar Heel, an accomplishment he knows requires as much brain power as it does arm strength.