NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys tennis team has been a lot like a nomad over the past few years, going from coach to coach and last year having multiple coaches as the Hounds try to find some common ground.
The Greyhounds won only one match last season but return this year with a whole new attitude and a new coach that has what it takes. First-year coach Carlos Correia was a senior at Naugatuck in 2007 when the Greyhounds last won the Naugatuck Valley League title.
That kind of enthusiasm for the program is just the kind of shot in the arm the team needs to get back on track for a title run.
“I wasn’t the number one seed—I was the fifth seed—but we did win an NVL championship in my senior year,” said Correia. “And that’s what I want to bring back to this program, an NVL title. I’m very impressed with the talent on this team. Some of these guys never have picked up a racket. But the natural eye and hand coordination is that of an athlete and we can do well with those kinds of skills.”
Leading the way back to prominence will be senior captains and top three singles players Riker Mitchell, Jake Burrell and Richard Mitchell.
Senior John Dana will be at No. 4 singles with junior Dave Justice at No. 5, junior Sean Kim at No. 6 and junior Lian Burger at No. 7.
“The Mitchell brothers are amazing athletes and both are working to play soccer in college,” said Correia. “I’m excited about the potential that this team has going into the season. If teams look at last year’s record they will be making a big mistake in assessing our abilities. We may shock some of the top teams in this league. I served as an assistant coach under Jay DiStasio in 2008 and learned an awful lot about putting together an effective lineup.”
The talent level runs up and down the Greyhounds’ lineup with a solid core of freshmen who can make an impact in the doubles competition. Sophomores Ryan Lewis, Jake Morrissey, Randy Kostka and Marco Melaragno will see time in doubles competition and team up with some of the singles players.
“I’m a little anxious to get the season underway,” said Correia. “We have a wealth of talent and these guys are just as excited about the season as I am. It has been a while since that atmosphere has been around the court. The NVL is a very tough league and we are not going into this over confident. We know there are good teams out there but we feel we are one of them. My job is to make the best out of every player and from what I have seen I think I have done that.”
Naugatuck will find out right off the bat where it stands among the competition as the Hounds were set to host Torrington on Wednesday. On Friday the Greyhounds will travel to Beacon Falls to take on Woodland.