Naugy racking up the Ws

Hawks building one match at a time

Naugatuck’s Mike Popescu returns a shot during his match with Woodland’s Pat Mulholland April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Mike Popescu returns a shot during his match with Woodland’s Pat Mulholland April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Naugatuck boys tennis team is off to a fast start.

The ‘Hounds are 6-1 through Wednesday and have dominated singles play in the early season. On April 17, Naugatuck defeated local rival Woodland 6-3 and experience ruled the day.

Junior co-captain Mike Popescu, senior co-captain Jake Morrissey, junior Jake Gingold and seniors Jeff Hensley and Yun Yue Chen all won matches. Naugy head coach Tony Loomis said he’s worked with the team on the mental aspect of the game.

“We’re focusing on the next point,” Loomis said. “Rather than focus on the negative if you lose a point, we want to move on to win the next one.”

Loomis said he’s been impressed with the team’s passion to play.

“They love to play the game,” Loomis said. “They get to practice early and stay late to hit the ball.”

Naugy continued its strong play this week with wins over Watertown and Sacred Heart. Loomis credited his team with preparing for each opponent.

“Our team is watching opponents and preparing for matches, and not using a see-the-ball, hit-the-ball approach when they step on the court,” Loomis said.

Woodland’s Pat Mulholland returns a shot during his match with Naugatuck’s Mike Popescu April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Woodland’s Pat Mulholland returns a shot during his match with Naugatuck’s Mike Popescu April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugy defeated Wilby 9-0 on Wednesday and are set for a rematch at Wolcott Monday. The Eagles are the only team to beat Naugy this season, coming in a 5-4 decision April 16.

Woodland, conversely, is gaining experience with each match. Despite falling in the first six matches of the season, after going undefeated through the Naugatuck Valley League over the last three years, the positives are starting to build for a team that graduated nine seniors.

On Monday, No. 1-seed Pat Mulholland defeated D.J. Bisaillion of Holy Cross in an impressive 8-3 win.

“Pat made a huge jump from our sixth spot to No. 1,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said. “We’re seeing a big, positive attitude change in his approach. It’s an adjustment to take on the No. 1 spot.”

In addition, sophomore Mike Roulanaitis picked up a victory over Naugy’s No. 2 seed last week and sophomore Jack Walsh won his match on Tuesday against Crosby in a third position.

Naugatuck’s Yun Chao Chen lines up a return shot during his match with Woodland’s Mike Roulanaitis April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Yun Chao Chen lines up a return shot during his match with Woodland’s Mike Roulanaitis April 17 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Also on Tuesday, senior Dan Johnson won his first match of the season.

“I’ve been impressed with the way the team has battled in each match,” Magas said. “We’re starting to win some individual matches, and sooner or later, we’re going to put the pieces together and pick up some team wins.”

The Hawks (1-6) earned their first win of the season with a 5-4 victory over Watertown on Thursday.

Woodland will host Crosby on Friday and play at Wilby on Monday.

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