Hawks hand ‘Hounds first loss

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Woodland’s Kyle Beynor backhands a shot during his No. 1 singles match with Naugatuck’s Julian Milek on Monday in Naugatuck. Beynor won the match, 8-3. –LUKE MARSHALL.
Woodland’s Kyle Beynor backhands a shot during his No. 1 singles match with Naugatuck’s Julian Milek on Monday in Naugatuck. Beynor won the match, 8-3. –LUKE MARSHALL.

NAUGATUCK — The streak lives on.

The Woodland boys tennis team extended its Naugatuck Valley League winning streak to 45 matches in a row with a 5-4 victory Monday over previously unbeaten Naugatuck. The Hawks dominated singles play, winning the first five matches to clinch the win without any drama.

Woodland (9-1, 9-0 NVL) remains the only undefeated team in NVL play and hasn’t lost since the end of the 2010 season. Wins Monday by the Hawks’ top five singles players allowed coach Jim Amato to send in his doubles-only players against Naugy’s top guns in the final portion of the match. The Greyhounds took the No. 6 singles match and swept doubles.

Woodland No. 1 seed Kyle Beynor, a senior who has never lost a singles match against an NVL opponent, emerged with an 8-3 win over Julian Milek, a senior on exchange from Germany.

Three of the first four games went to at least one deuce, and Beynor broke the third game to snag a 2-1 lead. He held to make it 3-1 before Milek rallied with a hold and a break to knot up the match at 3-all.

“You have to feel out your opponent always when you step onto the court,” Beynor said of facing Milek for the first time. “He’s a lefty, which is new to the NVL. You have to get a feel of where he’s weaker and where you can exploit.”

Milek, who won his first nine NVL matches, gave back the break in the next game when he netted a forehand at 15-40, and Beynor cruised from there. A two-handed backhand clinched the next game to make it 5-3 and Beynor eventually won the match on a double fault by Milek.

“It’s awesome to have him on our team,” Naugatuck coach Tony Loomis said of Milek. “Everyone’s learning from him. He’s an awesome player.”

In the No. 2 match, Steve Pec jumped out to a 7-0 lead over Mike Popescu before dropping a pair to let Popescu back into it. Pec regrouped to win, 8-2, with a forehand winner on the final point.

“I was overthinking points,” said Pec, who won gold as a junior in last year’s NVL doubles tournament. “I started getting into the middle of the court, hitting stupid errors and I let him back into it. But I was able to put it away.”

Naugatuck’s Julian Milek returns a shot during his No. 1 singles match against Woodland’s Kyle Beynor on Monday in Naugatuck. Beynor won the match, 8-3. –LUKE MARSHALL.
Naugatuck’s Julian Milek returns a shot during his No. 1 singles match against Woodland’s Kyle Beynor on Monday in Naugatuck. Beynor won the match, 8-3. –LUKE MARSHALL.

No. 3 seed Matt Murphy cruised in his match, defeating Tyler Posser, 8-0.

“I wanted to focus on getting to the net and serving and volleying,” Murphy said. “I tried some new stuff.”

Patrick Dietz won the No. 4 match over Jake Morrissey, 8-1, and No. 5 Nick Rioux clinched the victory for Woodland with an 8-2 win over Jeff Hensley.

The Hawks’ winning streak appears to be in little danger through the rest of this season, as they’ve knocked off all the league’s top teams once already.

“It just kind of happens,” Pec said. “We don’t really think about that stuff, but when you bring up the stat it’s pretty amazing.”

Woodland has lost nonconference matches during the streak, including a shutout earlier this year at East Catholic and a 3-2 defeat last year at Lewis Mills, with whom the Hawks will host a rematch May 7.

“We don’t pay attention to (the winning streak),” Beynor said. “You don’t let it get into your head. You have to stay relaxed.”

Naugatuck’s Yun Yue Chen took the No. 6 singles match over Chris Zmuda, 8-6. The Greyhounds swept the three doubles matches with Milek-Popescu beating Mike Ventimiglia-Mike Costa, 6-4, Posser-Chen knocking off Jack Walsh-Mike Roulanaitis, 6-2, and Morrissey-Hensley defeating Alex Tulk-Johan Haile, 6-0.

“We were 9-0 and that’s a great start, but you tend to get a big head,” Loomis said. “I hope this makes us approach practices with a mission. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we can learn from it.”

Woodland opened a long homestand Wednesday with a 9-0 win over Holy Cross and a 9-0 victory over Sacred Heart on Thursday. Their NVL win streak now stands at 47.

The Hawks’ homestand continues with a match versus Kennedy on Monday.

Naugy bounced back from its first loss with a 9-0 road win over Watertown on Wednesday. The Greyhounds will return home Monday to face Holy Cross. The ‘Hounds will get a rematch with Woodland on May 2.