Gingold emerges to lead Naugy

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Naugatuck’s Jake Gingold returns a shot during his match April 9 against Woodland’s Mike Roulanaitis at Naugatuck. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck’s Jake Gingold returns a shot during his match April 9 against Woodland’s Mike Roulanaitis at Naugatuck. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys tennis team lost its senior captain and team leader, Mike Popescu, before the Greyhounds even hit the court for their season-opening match with Woodland.

Popescu, an All-NVL tennis player and last year’s runner-up in the NVL singles championship, had a tough choice to make. After gaining All-NVL status and winning the Field Award at the NVL indoor track championship this winter, the senior two-sport athlete decided to join the outdoor track last week.

Popescu’s departure didn’t leave Naugatuck without a leader. Senior Jake Gingold emerged as the team captain and led the ‘Hounds to a convincing 8-1 win over Woodland April 9.

“Mike had a tough choice to make and we wish him much success this season,” Naugatuck head coach Brett Hayward said. “But Jake has been a team leader on and off the court for quite some time and he proved that in our opening match.”

Gingold started the preseason with an injury, battled back and helped the younger players become familiar in their roles. It all culminated with an inspiring win in the number one match with Woodland’s Mike Roulanaitis.

Gingold trailed in the match before fighting back to force overtime. He went on to defeat Roulanaitis 9-8 (7-4 OT). That set the example, and the Greyhounds took off full of confidence.

P.J. Morrissey defeated James Nelson, 8-4, and Marco Rebelo beat Mike Normand, 8-3. Naugatuck built a comfortable lead and the back end of the lineup turned in a dominating performance. Matt Triscritti defeated Chris Pinevich, 8-3, and Sebastian Oprea beat Nick Lucas, 8-2. Alex Durante made it a clean sweep in the singles defeating Ariana Sherwood, 8-1.

“We really came out and took care of business,” Hayward said. “Jake set the tone and the guys just followed his example. Alex (Durante) was playing in his first match ever and really came up with a clutch performance.”

Gingold and Rebelo teamed up for a 6-0 win over Roulanaitis and Normand in the first doubles set. Morrissey and Triscritti dropped a 6-4 match to the Nelson and Pinevich tandem. The ‘Hounds sealed the deal with James Clark and Jacob Torres teaming up for a 6-4 win over Rayhan Luzeri and Elis Abedin.

“Morrissey and Triscritti are sophomore class officers and they know each others tendencies out on the court,” Hayward said. “They are going to develop into a solid doubles team for us. Clark and Torres are a real ball of fire and they really sealed the win for us.”

Naugatuck fell to 1-1 on the year after dropping a match to Watertown, 8-1, Wednesday. The Greyhounds will visit Crosby on Friday and host Wolcott on Tuesday.