NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys tennis team will open the season with its third different head coach in three years.
Anthony Mariano, the Greyhounds’ new head coach, knows a little bit about succeeding even though tennis was not his forte when he donned the Garnet and Grey.
Mariano, a 2009 Naugatuck graduate, was a 1,000 point scorer and captain of the basketball team. He earned All-NVL and All-State status in his senior year before going on to Keene State, where he was named Little East Rookie of the Year and finished his career as a 1,000 point scorer.
“I never did play tennis in high school,” Mariano said. “But I do know that hard work equals success. These guys are out here working hard and we have a good solid core of four or five strong players.”
The Greyhounds went 5-10 with Brett Hayward at the helm last season but came on strong at the season’s end to qualify for the NVL tournament. Naugatuck only lost two players from last season: team captain Jake Gingold and junior exchange student Ivo Wendt. They are a little young in depth but the players coming back have experience.
Senior Jacob Torres won a crucial doubles match last year to help Naugatuck in a comeback victory over Woodland that secured a spot in the NVL tournament.
Juniors P.J. Morrissey and Matt Triscritti played in doubles matches at the NVL individual championships. Junior Marco Rebelo and sophomore Alec Durante also played in doubles matches in the NVL tournament.
Naugatuck will also have a newcomer, senior Kevin Lopes, to help lead the way. Junior Jonas Mauermann and sophomore Dylan Triscritti are looking to be in the mix on the court this season, as well.
The Greyhounds went 30-6 from 2012 through 2014 before last year’s rebuilding season. Naugatuck is working to get that swagger back and it will take a little bit of youthful depth to keep the Greyhounds heading in the right direction.
Freshmen Jared Montini, Yeshe Rakagme, Michael Rivera, Zak Robushi and Brandon Sampaio will look to make their mark this season.
Naugatuck is looking to get back to the NVL tournament and take it one step further — qualify for the state tournament.
“We had a real good showing the first practice,” Mariano said. “It’s going to take some time to figure out the best combinations for our doubles teams. But with the work these guys are putting in we have a chance to be successful. I really like the solid core of guys we have coming back with experience.”
Naugatuck will get their first test of the season April 4 when the Greyhounds are scheduled to visit Woodland for a 3:30 p.m. contest.