Future looks bright for Naugy tennis

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Naugatuck High sophomore Nick Hernandez is among a crop of young, up-and-coming Greyhounds on the tennis court. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys tennis team learned a valuable lesson last month. And the experience may mean more success in the future.

On May 10, the Greyhounds were locked in a tight match with Sacred Heart and pulled off a 5-4 victory. The tandems of Jake Morrissey and Mike Popescu along with Tyler Posser and Randy Kotska won matches and illustrated a key point.

“It came down to some key doubles matches, but it showed that if we commit to the skills and strategies we work on in practice, we can do damage in the years to come,” Naugatuck coach Brian Mariano said.

Mariano, along with co-head coach Tony Loomis, have instilled a positive vibe for the program.  A team with four outgoing seniors and a solid group of freshmen and sophomores combined to give Naugatuck a 14-4 regular season — and a bright future.

The Greyhounds wrapped up their season after an early exit in the Class L state tournament last week. Each of Naugy’s seven entries in the tournament — four singles players and three doubles teams — was ousted in straight sets in the first round.

The tournament marked the final match for four seniors: Lain Burger, Jake Burrell, Randy Kostka and Marcos Velasco.

“They were the leaders of the team,” Mariano said of the seniors. “They helped Tony and me out a lot.”

There were numerous younger players that contributed, too.

Morrissey, a sophomore, served as the team’s top seed throughout the season and reached the Naugatuck Valley League tournament quarterfinals. Two other sophomores, Nick Hernandez and Tyler Posser, also were among team’s top six players. The Chen twins, Yun Chao and Yun Yue, also sophomores, also put together solid seasons.

Popescu, a freshman, finished the season as a top-five seed. He, along with five other underclassmen, qualified for the states and gained some experience against some of the best players in the state.

“For the next couple of years, we’ll have a pretty decent group depending on what they do in the offseason,” Mariano said.

The team not only excelled on the court, they also have performed well in the classroom.

“All of our kids are in the top of 30 of their classes,” Mariano said. “They were a really great group of kids and made the season a great success.”