BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys tennis team has turned to one of its own to take the team to the next level.
Charlie Ostrander, a Woodland graduate and former No. 1 seed on the school’s tennis team, has been named head coach for the 2016 season. And after last year’s team progressed without a senior, this year’s team is primed to make a move in the NVL standings.
Despite returning almost all of its roster from last season, there’s a different feel to this year’s team. Ostrander said 12 students came out for tryouts and five freshmen are on the 2016 roster.
“This isn’t the same team as last year,” Ostrander said.
Last year’s No. 1 seed Mike Roulanaitis tops the list of returning players. Roulanaitis, a senior, finished with an over-.500 record against the NVL’s top players and advanced to the second round of the conference singles tournament.
Roulanaitis will be joined by three other seniors, Jordan Baer, Nicolas Lucas, and Christopher Pinevich. Pinevich was one-half of a duo who won their opening-round NVL tournament doubles match.
The lone junior on the team is James Nelson, who advanced from the sixth seed to the team’s second-seeded player. Nelson’s game improved and confidence followed.
“He’s expecting more out of himself this year,” Ostrander said of Nelson.
The new coach was also excited about the prospects of the freshmen class. The class includes Nicholas Hudson, Joshua Powanda, Gabriel Sousa, Jeffery Varesio and Richie Weishner.
After only a few hours of practice, Ostrander was impressed by what he saw out of the younger players.
“They looked really good,” Ostrander said of the freshmen.
Potential can be a dangerous word, but Ostrander’s experience can be a source of inspiration for players. He joined the Woodland tennis team as a freshman with no tennis experience and eventually became the top seed as part of the class of 2007.
Ostrander said the returning players will play a key role, not only to take Woodland up the ladder of the NVL but also help the freshmen.
“We hope to get a lot of out their leadership to get the younger players ready for the future,” Ostrander.
After last year’s one-win season, he wants the best for the players coming back to the team who endured some tough times.
“I want a good year for the seniors, because they deserve it,” Ostrander said.
Woodland is scheduled to open the season April 4 with a home match against Naugatuck.