The goal at the start of the season for both the Naugatuck and Woodland boys tennis teams was to reach the NVL tournament.
The Greyhounds mustered up a handful of wins (5) last year and Woodland, which won one match last year, was basically starting from scratch.
What a difference a year makes.
Both teams ushered in new head coaches and improved greatly. Naugatuck (9-6) earned the No. 4 seed in the NVL team tournament, while Woodland (6-10) earned the No. 7 seed.
“We just wanted to take it a step further from what these kids accomplished last year as a team,” Naugatuck head coach Anthony Mariano said. “A lot of guys came wanting to improve on the results they put up last year. We also had a large group of younger players who settled in and made their mark.”
Naugatuck beat Sacred Heart, 5-1, on Monday in the first round on the tournament to advance to the semifinals Wednesday against top seed Wolcott (16-0).
“We beat Sacred Heart in a tight match (5-4) a few weeks ago so we knew what we were facing going in. I’m proud of what these kids have accomplished this year and no matter how this pans out it’s hard not to think of this season as a success,” Mariano said.
Sacred Heart’s No. 1 Mike Saunders battled to get by Naugatuck’s Jonas Mauermann, 9-7, before Naugy slammed the door shut.
Marco Rebelo and P.J. Morrissey easily won their matches by 8-2 margins to give the Greyhounds in the lead. Michael Rivera beat the Heartss Dave Kulla, 9-7, and Jared Montini earned an 8-5 win over Brennan Sanders to give Naugatuck a 4-1 advantage.
Needing one more win to put it away Matt Triscritti closed the deal with a convincing 8-3 win doing away with the doubles portion of the match.
Woodland drew No. 2 seed Torrington (13-2) on Tuesday and fell, 9-0, in the quarterfinals.
Woodland surprised a few teams early on going 6-4 on the season before falling short over the last six coming in as the No. 7 seed at 6-10.
“We had a monumental turnaround this season,” Woodland head coach Charles Ostrander said. “We came out strong with a good first half of the season to gain some confidence.
“Unfortunately in the second half we had to face No. 1 seed Wolcott and No. 2 seed Torrington twice, so that didn’t work in our favor. But I’m pleased with how this team came together and never stopped working hard to get better.”
The Hawks showed improvement all season long from singles players James Nelson, Nick Lucas, Nick Hudson and Chris Pinevich.
Senior Mike Roulanaitis went 11-5 as the No. 1 singles for the Hawks and he will team up with freshman Josh Powanda who went 13-3 on the season as the top two singles players for Woodland at the NVL individual tournament that begins Monday.
Each NVL team sends two singles players and two doubles tandems to the individual tournament. Matches will be played at Woodland.