Fathers of tennis stars killed in crash invited to US Open to honor sons

Fathers of tennis stars killed in crash invited to US Open to honor sons
Drew Hassenbein helping facilitate the coin toss at the Men's U.S. Open Final in 2021. (Photo by USTA.org)

Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz were teenage tennis stars whose deaths shook  Roslyn Middle School and the surrounding community. But their impact transcended Long Island’s North Shore and was acknowledged at the US Open when their fathers were invited as guests of the United States Tennis Association Aug. 28.

Both Mitchell Hassenbein and Gary Falkowitz were invited to the opening day of the US Open hosted at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Gary Falkowitz told Newsday it was a “surreal” experience.

The court held tender memories for both fathers.

Just two years before, Drew was invited to the same court to help facilitate the coin toss between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev at the men’s US Open Final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Drew and I would come every day,” Mitchell Hassenbein told Newsday. “Day One for qualifiers we were here, and I’ve been doing that because we would be here together. This is like a comfortable place for us. Great place.”

Also in 2021, Gary Falkowitz played a match against his son Ethan on the the Ashe court.

“I remember playing with him and thinking he’s feeling bad because the points … they were going on forever,” Gary Falkowitz told Newsday. “So I just wanted to give him a point here and there. He said, ‘No, you’ve got to play fair. That was your point.’ And I said, ‘Fine, but this is a long video and someone’s taking the time to film this video.’ And he won. He fell to the ground. Arms out as if he’d just won the U.S. Open.”

Roslyn Middle School’s Ethan Falkowitz, top, and Drew Hassenbein, bottom. (Photos courtesy of Sportime Roslyn and Long Island Tennis Magazine)

Hassenbein’s and Falkowitz’s sons, both 14, were killed May 3 while being driven home from a tennis match celebration along with two of their high school teammates.

Their car was hit by Roslyn resident Amandeep Singh, who prosecutors allege was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and driving 95 mph on the wrong side of the road.

Singh pleaded not guilty in June to the 15-count indictment he faces for his role in the wrong-way driving crash.

Both Drew and Ethan were remembered as promising tennis players with local sports groups where the two played from early childhood.

Drew was a nationally ranked tennis player who played on the Roslyn High School varsity tennis team. He was ranked as high as No. 1 in the country in the National Boys 12 and Under division in 2021.

Ethan also played tennis for the Roslyn High School team. He played mostly doubles for the Bulldogs and helped the team begin winning matches from the start.

In the wake of their deaths the United States Tennis Association’s Eastern Region reflected on the passing of the two boys and extended its condolences to those close to them.

“USTA Eastern is heartbroken over the tragic loss of Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, two members of the Roslyn High School tennis team on Long Island,” a statement from the organization said. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to their families, teammates and loved ones.”

Efforts to contact Mitchell Hassenbein and Gary Falkowitz were unavailing.

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