Woodland girls win NVL team title, make deepest run in states
BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls tennis team this week made history and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Fresh off a Naugatuck Valley League team title, the Hawks defeated Granby Memorial 5-2 to earn a first-round victory in the Class S state tournament Monday.
Four of Woodland’s victories came on the singles side, with seniors Hope Gavigan, Rachel Mariano, Salma Shitia and freshman Ally Mayne each earning wins to clinch the match before doubles began.
“We really improved a lot over the season and were playing our best tennis at the end of the season,” Woodland head coach Jess DeGennaro said.
Woodland’s success in the states came after a thrilling 4-3 win over Naugy to win the NVL team title last Thursday. It was the Hawks’ first league championship since 2008.
“I give Naugatuck a lot of credit,” DeGennaro said. “It came down to a battle of the top two seeds.”
With the match tied at 3-3, it came down to the last match of the day. In the No. 3 doubles matchup, Woodland’s Daphne Cianciolo and Paige Gainey defeated Chelsea Iglesias and Crystal Wooster 9-8 (7-4) following a tiebreaker.
“They played their match of the season,” DeGennaro said of Cianciolo and Gainey.
Mariano and Mayne earned victories at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, while Ayah Galal and Katie Rioux teamed up to gain a win at No. 2 doubles.
DeGennaro said the championship came down to the Hawks’ depth.
“You have to be strong from top to bottom,” DeGennaro said. “I like that our four wins (to win a match) can come from anywhere. Everyone is prepared and they know every match is important.”
Woodland finished the season with 20 wins and only two losses.
The conference title was especially meaningful given the Hawks’ lineup of seniors, including Gavigan, Mariano, Shitia, Galal and Lauren Tompkins. Tompkins teamed with Erica Boccuzzi at No. 1 doubles.
“I couldn’t be happier for this team, and this group of seniors,” DeGennaro said, referring to the NVL title. “They deserved this and worked so hard for that moment.”
Following the conference individual tournament, Gavigan and the doubles team of Tompkins and Boccuzzi were named All-NVL for reaching the semifinals. Gavigan was played in her first season at singles, while Tompkins and Boccuzzi were playing in their first year at doubles.
“They exceeded expectations,” DeGennaro said of the All-NVL selections.
The Hawks’ season came to an end on Tuesday afternoon in a 7-0 loss to Valley Regional.