Hawks young and hungry

Woodland senior and boys tennis captain James Nelson will lead the Hawks on the court this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys tennis team is in a unique situation entering the 2017 season.

The team lost Mike Roulanaitis, the NVL singles title winner last year. This season will not be about replacing him, but giving a younger group of players the chance to make their own mark.

“It’s going to be a steep growing curve for a lot of these kids,” Woodland head coach Charlie Ostrander said.

The team will feature nine sophomores, and a freshman and junior who have not played at a competitive level.

The team lost its No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 positions, but feature a hungry group of young players.  The team does have a senior coming back — James Nelson. He will be the captain and is the only senior on the team.

Nelson played in the No. 2 spot last year until an injury sidelined him. He will be near the top of the lineup again this year.

Josh Powanda, a sophomore, went 12-2 last season between the second and fourth spots, and could likely end up at the No. 1 position. Powanda advanced to the second round of the NVL singles tournament last year and lost in a tiebreaker.

“I can already see it starting to happen,” Ostrander said of Powanda’s progression to the top of the lineup.

Another sophomore, Nick Hudson, will also be in the everyday lineup. Hudson, who played in the lower third of singles positions last year, will likely start at the No. 3 this season, according to Ostrander.

“Nick’s development is going to be huge for us,” Ostrander said.

Other returners include sophomores Gabe Sousa, Jeff Varesio and Richie Weishner.  New players include junior Sebastian Wojcik, sophomores Greg Aldrich, Zach Arisian, Nate Larowe, Tim Mendes and freshman Dante Polletta.

Woodland is scheduled to start the season April 3 at home versus Wilby. Next week’s schedule also includes an away match at Naugatuck on April 5 and a home match against Wolcott on April 7. The Wolcott squad is expected to compete for the NVL title and will provide a big early-season test for the young Hawks.