BY KYLE BRENNAN
After a 2-2 start to the season, Woodland girls tennis coach Jess DeGennaro is already thinking about what her Hawks will look like a month from now.
“They’re just getting used to it, but they have a lot of potential,” said DeGennaro, noting that five of Woodland’s 10 starters are brand-new to the sport this spring. “I feel like this team is going to grow a lot.”
The Hawks suffered a 6-1 loss to defending Naugatuck Valley League champion Watertown on April 14, but Woodland was missing three starters on April vacation. Still, DeGennaro was impressed by the way her team played against the league’s strongest competition.
“We looked good. Early in the match we were ahead on four courts,” she said. “They’re the NVL champs from last year, so it was nice to see us hang in there. Our girls are already looking forward to playing Watertown again later in the season.”
Sophomore Bella Mastropietro leads Woodland at No. 1 singles after playing at No. 3 last season.
“She worked hard in the offseason and wants the No. 1 spot, and she’s up for the challenge,” DeGennaro said.
Senior Brooke Reilly plays at No. 3 singles, while fellow senior Meghan Ruhl teams with junior Rylie Montini to form the Hawks’ top doubles duo.
“Rylie Montini wasn’t even in our lineup last year, and now she’s No. 1 doubles with Meghan Ruhl,” DeGennaro said. “She improved a lot in the offseason to earn that spot.”
All of those players, plus Audrey Fencil at No. 2 singles, won matches in the team’s 7-0 victory over Wilby on April 11.
DeGennaro said she’s impressed with the team’s commitment to improving.
“They’re coachable,” DeGennaro said. “With a lot of new players, we’ve done some basics. Our goal this year is to be more aggressive, especially at net as doubles players, and they definitely improved against Watertown. With this group, we have some athletic players who play other sports, so we’re trying to work on strategy.”
Woodland will be on the road for the rest of April, including matches at Naugatuck on April 22, Seymour on April 25, and Holy Cross on April 29. The Hawks will return home May 2 against Kennedy.
BY KYLE BRENNAN