Tough loss can help Hawks in long run

 

Woodland’s Gabe Sousa returns a shot during a match against Naugatuck’s Andres Maldonado April 24 at Naugatuck High School. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Naugatuck is the only thing that’s stood between the Woodland boys tennis team and perfection so far this spring.

The Hawks (9-2) suffered their second loss to the Greyhounds in another 3-2 meet April 24. While the sting of defeat isn’t necessarily something coach Mike Magas wanted for his team, he feels as though his veteran-laden group will handle the obstacles in the right way.

“I think they realize that they have to step up every single day and can’t take anything for granted,” Magas said. “A tough loss can be demoralizing, but we have to put it into perspective. The postseason will be a whole new season for us, so I think it’ll help in the long run.”

There’s a strong upperclassmen presence for these Hawks. Four of the seven regular starters are seniors and two more are juniors. Magas sees that as a positive in terms of handling wins and losses in the right fashion.

“They understand that you can’t get too down or too up,” he noted.

No. 1 singles player Josh Powanda continues to blaze through Naugatuck Valley League competition. After dropping the first two games to Naugy’s Chris Cook, Powanda won the next dozen straight to earn a 6-2, 6-0 victory. Powanda followed up with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Watertown’s Ryan Butwell on April 25 to remain undefeated in the league.

While Magas expected Powanda’s dominance, the coach has been happy with the play he’s seen at Nos. 2 and 3 singles (Dante Polletta and Austin Roberts) and No. 1 doubles (Nick Hudson and Devon Polletta).

“Dante Polletta has been playing really well,” Magas noted. “His groundstrokes have improved and his serve has improved. Austin Roberts is building some character and some fight. Nick Hudson and Devon Polletta have been very strong at No. 1 doubles.”

The No. 1 doubles squad had been undefeated until suffering a 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss to Naugy’s Jared Montini and Jay Mezzo. Roberts nearly swung the meet against the Greyhounds in Woodland’s favor but fell just short in a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 11-9 loss to Brandon Sampaio at No. 2 singles.

Magas also noted the play of Richie Weishner and Gabe Sousa, who have seen time in singles and doubles action.

Woodland bounced back from the loss to Naugatuck with a 5-0 win over Holy Cross on Tuesday.

The Hawks will face Sacred Heart on Wednesday and Kennedy on Friday. The Hawks will close the regular season next week with a home meet against Torrington on Monday and a trip to Crosby on Wednesday before the NVL team tournament begins in mid-May.