Hawks continue historic run for tennis program

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The Woodland doubles team of Jimmy Tompkins, pictured, and Steve Pec became the first Hawks duo to ever make the third round of the state tournament. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — For the first time in school history, Woodland was represented in the third round of both the Class S singles and doubles tournaments.

Kyle Beynor, the Naugatuck Valley League champion and No. 16 seed in the Class S singles draw, became just the second player in program history to reach the third round last week.

At the same time, the team of Jimmy Tompkins and Steve Pec, the NVL champions and No. 14 seed in the doubles tournament, became the first Hawks to ever make the third round of state play.

Beynor, Tompkins, and Pec helped Woodland achieve its best team finish in school history, placing ninth with six points. It’s the second year in a row the Hawks have made program history after the team won its first championships last season.

“We’re moving forward,” Woodland coach Jim Amato said. “Every time we set goals, we try to achieve and supersede them with our progress. It’s a testament to them and how hard they’ve worked. It’s not just a singles player and a doubles team getting that far. It’s indicative of how much they wanted it.”

Beynor matched the third-round achievement of Joe Rosa, who won the NVL silver medal and advanced to the Class M third round in 2009. Beynor has just two losses in his career — one to Lewis Mills’ ace Trevor Robinson and one to Granby Memorial’s Chandler Libby, the No. 1 seed in the Class S tournament.

Beynor, a junior, dropped just four games in his two tournament wins. He beat Valley Regional’s Nathan Vonbenschoten, 6-1, 6-0, in the first round before taking out Northwestern’s Jarkin Siri Lanphouthacoul, 6-3, 6-0, in the second round. Beynor suffered a straight-set loss to Libby in the third round.

“Kyle has played incredibly well in the past three years,” Amato said. “To have a run with so many wins strung together really bodes well for the following year. Being in the position of having a lot of tight games will really make him ready for next season.”

Tompkins and Pec weren’t even supposed to be a doubles team this season until they asked Amato for a chance to avenge two early exits in last year’s postseason tournaments.

“Jimmy and Steve wasn’t a matchup you drew up on paper, looking at how they played as singles players last year,” Amato said. “It’s crazy what a difference a year can make. They approached me and wanted to be a doubles team this year, and I told them they had to stay together rather than worrying about themselves individually. I’m really impressed with how well they balanced each other.”

Tompkins and Pec advanced to the third round with a pair of straight-set victories. They defeated team from Nonnewaug, 6-0, 6-0, in the first round before dispatching a duo from Old Lyme, 6-2, 6-4, in the second. They took No. 3 Jacob Greisman and Ben Smith of Weston to three sets before falling, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, in the third round.

The team of Pat Dietz and Nick Rioux also advanced to the second round with a 6-0, 6-3 win over a team from Lyman Memorial in the first before losing a three-set match in the second.

Chris Zmuda and Michael Ventimiglia also qualified for the doubles draw but lost in the first round.

Woodland’s two other singles players, Mike Patsiarikas and Matt Murphy, suffered narrow losses in their first matches that they took into super-breakers.

Despite the team’s dominance in the NVL over the last two years and growing success in the state tournament, Amato isn’t ready to call Woodland a local tennis dynasty.

“I think we’re a program beginning to establish itself and find its identity,” Amato said. “But to be called a dynasty after just two winning seasons — the first two ever — is too early. Plus, we’re doing it with the same core group of kids. We’ll have to go earn it again next year. We’ll start talking about a dynasty if we continue this success with a whole new group of kids.”