The road to a championship is never a walk in the park. Woodland senior Mike Roulanaitis knows all about that.
Roulanaitis, the Hawks’ No.1 singles player, survived two grueling matches in the oppressive heat May 25 in Wolcott to win the Naugatuck Valley League boys individual tennis tournament championship.
Roulanaitis finished his high school career the only way one could hope: winning a title.
“I think it’s pretty awesome to end my high school career like this,” he said. “To be able to come back here to Woodland and say that I was the 2016 NVL champion is such a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Roulanaitis won the title by outlasting Holy Cross’ Andrew Dzinski (6-3, 2-6, 7-5) in the semifinals, and rallying for a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Wolcott’s junior Matt Spina in the final.
“It was definitely a long day and I tried to stay hydrated,” Roulanaitis said. “I took a little bit off my serves to save energy and focused more on my shots. I had lost to the Holy Cross kid during the regular season so I knew a little bit of what to expect from him.”
The NVL allows a two-hour break between matches but the Woodland senior only took a little more than an hour to get ready for a match that would decide the 2016 NVL championship.
Roulanaitis split two matches with Spina during the regular season. In the third and deciding match of the final, Spina held a 5-2 lead and twice served for the championship. Roulanaitis refused to give in and slowly chipped away at the deficit. He fought off two match points and then took the 7-5 tiebreaker.
“It was the longest match I’ve ever played,” Roulanaitis said. “I tried not to think about being down by as much as I was and just tried to win it one point at a time.”
In the state tournament, Roulanaitis fell in the first round of the Class M tournament to East Hampton’s Alexander Karalus (6-3, 6-2) on Tuesday.
Naugatuck’s duo of P.J. Morrissey and Matt Triscritti battled in the Class L first round on Tuesday. Morrissey fell to Yahoon Kang of Farmington (6-0, 6-0) and Triscritti lost to Kyle Dopp of Farmington (6-0, 6-0).