Naugy girls battle-tested

NAUGATUCK — With four matches in four days to close out the regular season, the Naugatuck girls tennis team will head into next week’s Naugatuck Valley League tournament battle-tested.

The Greyhounds have passed each test thrown their way so far.

Naugatuck defeated St. Paul, 4-3, on Tuesday to improve to 13-0 on the year and hand the Falcons their third loss of the season.

The Greyhounds will finish out the regular season against Torrington on Wednesday and Sacred Heart on Thursday. At 15-0, Sacred Heart is the only other undefeated team in the league, and the match will decide the No. 1 seed for the NVL tournament, which starts on Monday.

“Torrington and Sacred Heart are just as tough as any team in this league,” Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra said. “But it certainly will have us ready to compete in the NVL tournament.”

“We have only three courts and a mediocre coach, so the success we are having is all about the girls’ effort and what they put into this game,” added Sendra, taking a playful jab at himself. “They have grown to love this game. When I leave practice they are still here practicing. That desire has made them better tennis players.”

On Monday, Naugatuck took a 5-2 win against Wolcott. Patricia Escaleira and Gina Greco won their singles matches, 8-4, as Naugatuck headed into the doubles portion of match tied with the Eagles.

That is where the Greyhounds excelled as they swept the doubles matches.

The duo of Sabrah Cegielski and Catarina Rego won handily, 8-1. Brielle Behuniak and Hailey Russell made quick work in their 8-3 win, and the doubles team of Cristina Rego and Natalie Paradise won by a close, 9-7 margin.

The win over Wolcott, which gave the Greyhounds an Iron Division championship, was Naugatuck’s second of the season — the first was a 4-3 victory in April. The Greyhounds also have two 4-3 wins over defending NVL champion Watertown on their resume this season.

“A few years ago they restructured our division and we play Watertown, Wolcott and Torrington twice, and that has helped us to remain competitive,” Sendra said.

“There is definitely a benefit of playing these teams twice to get ready for the NVL tournament,” Sendra added.

Naugatuck also has the benefit of depth. Amaya Jackson and Adrianna Moreno have found their way into the lineup this season, giving the Greyhounds an added force to be reckoned with.

“I have several girls who are right there ready to step in and to fill that role. That’s what makes us such a deep and well-prepared team going into the NVLs,” Sendra said.

Naugatuck will host a NVL quarterfinal match on Monday. The semifinals are next Wednesday with the final set for next Friday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls.