NHS girls’ tennis tops Wilby on senior day

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NAUGATUCK — It was Sunday night, less than 24 hours before senior day, and Greyhounds girls’ tennis coach Jodie Ruccio had a dilemma on her racket.

“I was saying, ‘What do I do for senior night for tennis?’ the first-year skipper, better known as a hoops coach, said during Tuesday’s home match against Wilby, which Naugatuck won, 7-0. “You know, for basketball, it’s you get on the PA, you say something before the game, you do the flowers and the basketballs and all that sort of stuff. So I called a couple of the girls, and they’re great. They took care of everything. We have a very strong sophomore class. So the sophomores did a bunch of things, we got some flowers, the parents are here. It’s nice.”

The girls made Ruccio look good, just as they have throughout this surprising, 14-2, Copper Division championship season. Posters, balloons and streamers adorned the fence surrounding NHS’ three courts, in honor of the team’s seven seniors, Meghan Toth, Sarah Yacavone, Elicia Young, Marissa Sounanthanam, Kaitlyn Dana, Rebeka Mitchell and Danielle Charette.

They’re a heterogeneous group, this class of 2010. Some, like Toth and Yacavone, the Hounds’ top two singles players, have been with the program for four years, playing for three different head coaches. Others, like Mitchell and Charette, unbeaten as a doubles tandem, are playing the sport for the first time, this season.

“I give a lot of credit to our doubles teams because Elicia has played before, but never with Katie [Bottinick, a sophomore],” Ruccio said. “And we’ve kind of mixed it up with Elicia; she’s played with three different players, and I’m very pleased with her leadership, as a senior. Obviously, Danielle and Beka, I never expected them to be undefeated this late in the season. … Meghan’s solid. Sarah’s solid. Miranda [Jang, a sophomore playing third singles] is solid. So it’s been nice. We’ve kind of got stuff in every different position.”

The Garnet and Grey never looked better than they did against the Wildcats Tuesday, winning each match by at least six games. Toth beat Emily Sanchez, 8-0, and Yacavone defeated Anays Cruz, by the same score. Jang topped Candice Henry, 8-1, and Kaitlyn Carter took Briana Nyari, at love. Young and Bottinick bested Stephanie Lumbra and Jessie Collado, 8-2, Charette and Mitchell beat Sherry Husaine and Raven Archer, 8-0, and Kaitlyn Dana and Jess Buckley won against Temina Kusi and Shareza Jalaludin, 8-2.

Naugatuck was scheduled to visit Holy Cross Tuesday, but the contest was postponed to Thursday because of rain. Naugy is also slated to take on the Chargers in Ansonia Wednesday.

The first round of the inaugural Naugatuck Valley League team tournament will be either Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather, and the semifinals and finals will be Monday. Woodland will host all tournament matches.

The Hawks will entertain Seymour Wednesday. If both local squads win out, Woodland will be the No. 1 seed, and Naugatuck will be No. 2.

“We are enjoying [the season],” Ruccio said. “It’s a really nice group of girls. And the parents—we’ve been pretty much having the whole entire area [around the home courts] filled with parents, which has been really nice. You don’t see that. We came to some other matches in some other places, and there’s nobody.”