Hawks bounce back

Woodland’s Lauren Thompkins returns a shot as her doubles partner Erica Boccuzzi watches May 5 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. The duo won their match 8-2, as the Hawks defeated the Eagles 6-1. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Woodland’s Lauren Thompkins returns a shot as her doubles partner Erica Boccuzzi watches May 5 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. The duo won their match 8-2, as the Hawks defeated the Eagles 6-1. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls tennis team bounced back quickly after losing its first match of the season.

The Hawks defeated Kennedy 6-1 on Monday and improved to 10-1 overall. Woodland’s 5-2 loss last week to St. Paul proved to be a sign of the challenges ahead.

“The loss was a good reminder that we have to practice and work hard the rest of the way,” Woodland head coach Jess DeGennaro said. “I knew St. Paul would be strong competition. We had some close matches and we’ll do some things different next time.”

St. Paul closed the gap atop the Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division standings with the win over Woodland. But DeGennaro said the team’s focus continues to be on the larger goal of preparing for the Naugatuck Valley League team tournament.

“Our goal is not to go undefeated,” DeGennaro said. “All of our focus is on the NVLs and that’s what I would want as a coach. Each match is a stepping stone.”

In the win over Kennedy, Rachel Mariano, Ally Mayne, Salma Shitia earned singles victories.  On the doubles side, the teams of Lauren Tompkins and Erica Boccuzzi, Ayah Galal and Katie Rioux, and Daphne Cianciolo and Chloe Ariola all picked up victories.

The Galal-Rioux and Cianciolo-Ariola duos earned Woodland’s only wins against the Falcons.

The rest of the Hawks’ matches will be against teams they’ve already played, beginning with a match on Friday against Wolcott in Beacon Falls. The Eagles are the other squad in the three-team mix battling for the Brass Division championship.

Woodland’s Salma Shitia hits a backhand shot May 5 in her match versus Kennedy’s Emily Toro in Beacon Falls. Shitia won the match 8-0, as the Hawks won the team match 6-1. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Woodland’s Salma Shitia hits a backhand shot May 5 in her match versus Kennedy’s Emily Toro in Beacon Falls. Shitia won the match 8-0, as the Hawks won the team match 6-1. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“This will be the first time we’re seeing players for the second time this season,” DeGennaro said.

That could be beneficial against a team like St. Paul. The rematch between Woodland and St. Paul is set for this Monday, followed by consecutive road meets against Ansonia and Watertown on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For example, facing teams another time may be important for players like Hope Gavigan, the Hawks’ top singles seed. Gavigan made the switch from doubles to singles and took over the pressure of the No. 1 seed.

Another positive for Woodland is that its seniors are at the top of their games. That’s just in time for the stretch run of the regular season, which ends on May 16 at home against Seymour.

“They’re playing the best tennis of their careers,” DeGennaro said.