Greyhounds take lessons into tourney

Kelly Carr and the Greyhounds will look to defend their NVL title when the tennis tournament begins next week. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds head into the NVL girls tennis tournament with some unfinished business to take care of to defend their title. That may seem odd, but according to head coach Jose Sendra, Tuesday’s match against undefeated Watertown was there for the taking.

“A coach once told me you either win or you learn,” Sendra said. “Hopefully we learned our lesson. The match with Watertown was there for the taking, and I just think the pressure of the situation took over.”

Naugatuck fell to Watertown, 4-3, on Tuesday. The Greyhounds bounced back from the loss with wins over Torrington, 5-2, on Wednesday and Kennedy, 7-0, on Thursday to end the regular season.

Watertown (15-0) is the only team to beat Naugatuck (13-2) this season, and both matches were 4-3 finals. Watertown also happens to be the team Naugatuck beat in the NVL final last year.

The Greyhounds will need to take care of business against Watertown if they intend to defend their title.

The NVL quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for May 15 and May 17, respectively, on the higher seed’s court. The final is set for May 19 at 3 p.m. at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls with a rain date of May 20. The pairings weren’t announced as of this post.

Naugatuck is strong at No. 1 and No. 2 two singles with Kelly Carr and Floraine Evardo, respectively. Carr has eight wins this year and Evardo has nine. The relentless play of No. 3 singles player Kelly Murphy, who has compiled a 12-2 record, has helped swing the tide in the Greyhounds’ favor in most matches.

“Kelly is one of the best when it comes to staying positive throughout her matches no matter what,” said Sendra following the Watertown match. “She just goes out there and gets the job done. Our number four Diana Velasco has been injured twice during the season but still managed to put up an 8-2 record.”

“Hopefully the match with Watertown was a good learning experience,” Sendra added. “Murphy lost to the Watertown girl 8-6 earlier in the season and then came back to beat her 8-4 this week. That is what we need to do, learn from our mistakes. We almost won against Watertown and played poorly. If we play the way we are capable of we should be in a position to challenge for a title.”

Naugatuck has four solid singles players who can compete with any player in the NVL, but what makes the Greyhounds one of the favorites to reach the title match is their doubles teams.

At No. 1 doubles is the team of Lori Dietz and Patricia Escaleira, who have a 12-1 record this season. The No. 2 tandem of Sabrah Cegielski and Kelly Redmond is 13-1. Sendra has used some different lineups at No. 3 doubles this season, but the team of Justes Cureton and Gina Greco has solidified the spot.

“Our doubles is where we are the strongest and we didn’t take the opportunity against Watertown,” Sendra said. “Our number two doubles came in undefeated and lost for the first time (against Watertown). Maybe that was not the worst thing heading into the NVLs.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version that appears in the May 12 edition to include results through May 11.