NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds know they aren’t in a race. As long as they are putting one foot in front of the other and getting better each day, they are heading in the right direction.
The Greyhounds returned a very deep and balanced team that also happens to be the defending NVL girls tennis champion. They might not have looked like champions at the start of last season, but in the end the Greyhounds never looked better.
So, Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra is excused if he doesn’t get too excited about early-season results. The goal is to get better each time they step on the court and be one of the last teams to play in late May.
“I have coached many sports and no matter who you have coming back or who you lost to graduation you really don’t know anything until you play for the first time that season,” Sendra said.
The weather has been brutal to the Greyhounds. Naugatuck played its first match of the season last Friday against St. Paul in weather that was better suited for a Klondike Derby.
“Today is all about learning. How we play, how well we do or don’t do tells us a lot about ourselves,” said Sendra as he watched over the action on the court. “You learn from it and move on to get better the next time out. And, at least in theory, that’s how it is supposed to work.”
With chilly temperatures and a blustery wind, St. Paul broke out on top to a 2-0 lead as Naugatuck’s Kelly Carr and Floraine Evardo dropped 8-4 and 8-5 decisions, respectively.
Naugatuck’s No. 3 Kelly Murphy throttled her opponent by an 8-0 count to get Naugy back in it. No. 4 Gina Greco turned the tables on her opponent, and just like that the match was tied 2-2 heading into the doubles portion.
Naugatuck swept the doubles to win the match 5-2. The duo of Lori Dietz and Patricia Escaleira and the tandem of Justes Cureton and Diana Velasco earned 8-4 victories.
The Greyhounds dropped to 1-1 on the season after falling to Watertown, 4-3, on Monday. Carr (8-5), Evardo (8-3), Murphy (8-6) and Velasco (8-4) all dropped tough singles matches. Naugy closed the gap by winning all three doubles matches. Dietz and Escaleira took an 8-2 decision, Sabrah Cegielski and Kelly Redmond won 8-3, and Cureton and Greco won 8-3.
As the season progresses, Sendra said he is looking for fight out of his team.
“The thing you are looking for is grit,” Sendra said. “Do they have the ability to fight back when they are down? In order to win championships everything needs to fall in the right place. The only thing you can hope for is to have the opportunity to be competitive with your opponent.”
Naugatuck’s match against Holy Cross on Wednesday was postponed. The Greyhounds will visit Torrington on Thursday and host Ansonia next Monday.