Girls tennis: Young Greyhounds rebuilding, but working hard

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
When a team is in a rebuilding year, it’s kind of hard to gauge the progress that is made. Naugatuck girls tennis coach Jose Sendra was a bit cautious in his estimation of the team heading into the season after graduating six starters.
Two weeks into the season, the Greyhounds are on a roll, winning three straight after dropping the season opener to Wolcott.
“Wolcott is always a tough team,” said Sendra. “I knew after losing six starters from last year that this was going to take some time, but we have three solid players at the top of our singles rotation and that’s a good place to start.”
Naugy knocked off Torrington, 5-2, on April 12 and improved to 2-1 on the season. The Greyhounds swept through singles play with seniors Shravani Daptardar (8-4), Mia Grella (8-1) and Tiffany Nguyen (8-2) earning victories, along along with sophomore Camryn Smith (8-3).
In doubles play senior Alena Rotatori and sophomore Ava DeFilippo took an 8-2 decision. Senior Zoe McCasland and junior Josephine Burke battled but came up on the short end of an 8-4 score. Senior Emily Meyer and junior Mel Gonzalez left it all on the court, but were edged out in a 9-7 decision.
“We only have four players from the starting lineup that came back so we knew this was going to be a rebuilding season,” said Daptardar. “Every day the coach pushes us harder, every day we show up and every day we are getting better.
“I gained valuable experience last year during the season and the NVL tournament. This year I can see my serves are getting better. I’m seeing my follow through on the ball getting better since my freshman year. It’s hard rebuilding but we have a great group of girls and I think we are going to do well this year.”
That close-knit bond is already starting to form for the Greyhounds as they picked up its third win in a row, earning a 6-1 victory over Seymour on April 13. Daptardar left little doubt on her progress as she took an 8-0 decision in singles play. Nguyen dominated ,winning 8-1, and Grella took an 8-4 outcome. Smith battled at No. 4 but fell short by an 8-3 margin.
“To come back this year with just four returning players is certainly a challenge,” said Sendra. “Our strength in definitely in our singles play. We are still trying to figure out the best combinations in doubles. Alena (Rotatori) is our only retuning doubles player and I have matched her up with Ava (DeFilippo) and they have worked well together.”
In the win over Seymour Rotatori and DeFilippo earned an 8-3 win. McCasland and Burke found their groove, taking an 8-4 decision. Meyer and Jade Rodriguez battled to a victory, pulling out the match 8-6.
Naugy was slated to play St. Paul on Wednesday and are scheduled to host Woodland on Friday.