BEACON FALLS — Last season, the Woodland boys tennis team struggled for team victories. In 2016, the Hawks have the state tournament in their sights.
Through Tuesday, Woodland stood at 5-4 overall with seven matches left and need a .500 record to qualify for the statewide postseason.
The Hawks have played some inspired tennis recently. Last week, the Hawks went 1-1 with a win over Wilby and a loss to Wolcott, the top team in the NVL.
In the win over Wilby, Woodland swept the meet. Mike Roulanaitis, Nick Lucas, Josh Powanda, Chris Pinevich, Richie Weishner and Jordan Baer all won singles matches.
On the doubles side, Roulanaitis and Powanda swept their match, while Pinevich and Weishner won 8-5, and Baer and Jeff Varesio won 8-2 to complete the sweep.
In Friday’s match against Wolcott, Roulanaitis pulled off a big win over top-seeded Matt Spina. Roulanaitis won 9-8 (7-5) in a tiebreaker before a large crowd, according to Woodland boys head coach Charlie Ostrander.
“Mike played a heck of a match,” Ostrander said. “It was close. The tiebreaker went 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3.”
Ostrander said Roulanaitis has proven himself to be one of the top players in the league. Roulanaitis’ status also helps the team.
“As a coach you can plug him in anywhere, and know that nine out of ten times you’re going to get a point,” Ostrander said.
Roulanaitis also benefits the younger players, especially during practice.
“I like to let the younger guys get an idea of what Mike is trying to do on the court,” Ostrander said. “I have no problem leaving him or the other seniors alone with the younger kids on a separate court during practice.”
Woodland was missing four players in the Wolcott match for a variety of other commitments. Despite the 8-1 team loss, Ostrander had a chance to insert Varesio and Gabriel Sousa into singles action.
It was a chance for coach to put two younger players in a spot against top competition and no pressure. That experience may pay off later in the season.
“It was good to get them in there at that spot,” Ostrander said.
The Hawks have a shot for more immediate success, and more opportunities for both the seniors and the younger players to get a taste of high level tennis both at the NVLs and possibly the states.
Woodland will start a four-match road trip versus Crosby on Wednesday. The Hawks will travel to Watertown on Thursday, Wolcott on Friday and Naugatuck May 9.