A finals run

Naugy tandem, Woodland’s top singles player make run to NVL title matches

BEACON FALLS — The Naugatuck Valley League girls individual tennis tournament proved a few of things. St. Paul is an up-and-coming contender, Watertown is still a formidable foe, and Woodland and Naugatuck deserved to be in the mix.

Three of the four semifinals matches May 26 at Woodland featured players from Woodland and Naugatuck.

In the singles tournament, Woodland’s Ally Mayne defeated Watertown’s Ava Kaverud 7-5, 5-2 (ret.) in the semifinals to set up a meeting with top seed Natasha Kempes of St Paul in the final.

Kempes held the upper hand over Mayne, the No. 3 seed, throughout the match winning 6-1, 6-1.

“Last year I made the semifinals,” Mayne said. “So this was one step closer and I’m pleased with making it to the finals. It was tough to play in the heat but Natasha is such a great player. Her shots are incredible and her serves are real good.

“In the semis I tried not to think too much about what was riding on the match. That was probably the best match I played all season. I did my best and I’m pleased with my effort, but Natasha really deserved it.”

The Naugatuck girls tennis team created quite a stir two weeks ago coming from behind to defeat Watertown for the NVL team title. It was Naugatuck’s doubles teams that set the tone, sweeping three matches to win the title, 4-3.

The Greyhounds proved it wasn’t luck that got them the team title as they had two doubles teams in the semifinals of the individual tournament.

Naugatuck’s tandem of Floraine Evardo and Diana Velasco, who each played singles during the season and entered the tournament seeded 21st, reached the final after defeating Sacred Heart’s Brianna Montambault and Heather Brown (7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-4) in the semifinal.

In the final, Evardo and Velasco fell to Watertown’s duo of Rachel Martineau and Julia D’Occhio, who were seeded second, 6-1, 6-1.

It was nearly an all Naugatuck final in the doubles tournament as the tandem of Ally Mezzo and Kelly Murphy reached the semifinals. Mezzo and Murphy fell to Martineau and D’Occhio 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).

“Having two doubles teams in the semis and one in the finals says a lot about the success of our program,” Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra said. “Floraine played in the doubles tournament last year so her experience was essential.

“Very proud of what these girls accomplished this season. They all worked very hard since day one to get better and by season’s end they earned the benefits of all that hard work.”

In the state tournament, Woodland lost a Class S qualifying round match to Coginchaug, 5-2, Saturday in Beacon Falls.

Mayne, at No 1 singles won her match 6-3, 6-1. No. 2 singles Amanda Doughney overcame a tough start to win her match 3-6, 6-3, tiebreaker 7-4 for the only Woodland victories on the match.

On Tuesday, Naugatuck was upended by Hall, 7-0, in the first round of the Class L tournament in West Hartford.