Full speed ahead

Naugatuck’s Sarah Cook returns a shot during her match with Woodland’s Ally Mayne April 9 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Naugatuck’s Sarah Cook returns a shot during her match with Woodland’s Ally Mayne April 9 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls tennis team hit a bump in the road in last week’s loss to Woodland, but for the most part it’s been full speed ahead in the Greyhounds’ quest to rebuild a contender.

The Greyhounds fell to Woodland, 4-3, April 9 in a rematch of last year’s NVL championship match.

“Woodland is obviously one of the teams to beat in the NVL,” head coach Jose Sendra said. “But I was encouraged by how we stayed with them. The girls are stepping up and meeting the challenge head on.”

Sendra has been hard at work finding the right combinations to replace 60 percent of the starting lineup, and Naugatuck is setting the pace early on in the season.

Senior Tathiana Serrano and sophomore Floraine Evarado won No. 3 and No. 4 singles to tie the match versus Woodland heading into the doubles portion of the showdown. The Greyhounds didn’t make it easy on the Hawks, as senior Liz Perez battled all the way before dropping a tough 9-7 decision in the No. 2 single match.

Senior Crystal Wooster teamed up with freshman Kelly Carr to win the No. 1 doubles match before Woodland took care of business and swept the final two doubles to pull out the win.

“I’m really pleased at how hard the team is working and the progress we are making day by day,” Sendra said. “A lot of girls are battling for playing time and one of the surprises is the play of our freshman Kelly Carr. She is a year-round player and that has been evident by her success on the court.”

Junior Sarah Cook is leading the way from the No. 1 spot and got Naugatuck off on the right foot in a season-opening 5-2 win over Watertown. The Greyhounds sealed the match sweeping the doubles with the No. 1 tandem of Wooster and Carr setting the example.

The No. 2 doubles team of sophomores Diana Velasco and Abigail Jang made quick work in an 8-2 win. The No. 3 doubles tandem of senior Karla Iglesias and sophomore Kelly Murphy earned an 8-5 win.

“Our junior and seniors are providing positive leadership to the younger girls,” Sendra said. “That is creating a real good atmosphere at practice. It’s no mystery. You put as many balls out on the court and the girls just hit away. It’s like batting practice in baseball and you can see their technique improving every day.”

Naugatuck took it up a notch on Monday in a convincing 6-1 win over St. Paul. Carr played in her first singles match and dominated in an 8-0 win. Junior Nicole Bolduc took Carr’s place in the No. 1 doubles spot alongside Wooster.

Iglesias moved up to the No. 2 doubles team and that allowed junior Salena Na to team up with Murphy in the No. 3 doubles as they earned an 8-3 win.

“We are working on a few different combinations to build our depth,” Sendra said. “Girls are working hard for playing time and that is only going to make us a stronger team in the long run.”

The Greyhounds swept Ansonia, 7-0, Tuesday. Naugy lost its second down-to-the-wire match of year to Wolcott, 4-3, on Wednesday. The Greyhounds stand at 3-2 through five matches, but are a couple bounces of the ball away from being 5-0.

The Greyhounds are set to host Crosby on Friday for a 3:30 p.m. match.