Hawks holding court

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Woodland’s Ally Mayne returns a shot during her match April 9 with Naugatuck’s Sarah Cook in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 4-3. The Hawks, the defending Naugatuck Valley League champions, started the defense of their title by winning their first four matches. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Ally Mayne returns a shot during her match April 9 with Naugatuck’s Sarah Cook in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 4-3. The Hawks, the defending Naugatuck Valley League champions, started the defense of their title by winning their first four matches. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls tennis team, the defending NVL champs, came into the season as the hunted.

The Hawks jumped right into the fray April 9 with a rematch of last year’s NVL championship against Naugatuck.

The Hawks garnered wins from sophomore Allison Mayne and junior Katie Rioux in the singles matches, but were tied with Naugatuck heading into the doubles portion of the contest.

All-NVL senior captain Erica Boccuzzi and junior Alexandra Pettas got off to a slow start as the No. 1 doubles team fell to the Greyhounds. The Hawks came on strong with the No. 2 doubles tandem of sophomore Angelina Padilla and junior Paige Gainey earning a win. The No. 3 doubles team of junior Chloe Ariola and sophomore Alyssa Varesio sealed the deal with a win to secure the 4-3 victory in the season-opener.

“I’m very pleased with our start,” Woodland head coach Kate Gavigan said. “I realize how easily an upset can happen in any given match, but I’m seeing the team starting to gel.”

The Hawks took off after the win over Naugatuck. Woodland won its next two matches in convincing fashion — a 5-2 victory over St. Paul April 10 and a 5-2 win over Seymour on Monday. Mayne and Rioux are undefeated at 4-0 on the season as the top two singles players for Woodland.

Senior captain and No. 3 singles Daphne Cianciolo and No. 4 singles player freshman Amanda Doughney are off to good starts as well, and the coach sees great potential.

“Daphne is changing from a doubles to a singles player and that transition is never easy, but she’s off to a good start,” Gavigan said. “I noticed Amanda’s athletic ability during tryouts and she has been a pleasant surprise early in the season. She reminds me of Ally Mayne last year being a backboard not letting much get by.”

The coach has settled in on Boccuzzi and Gainey as the No. 1 doubles team. Although they are off to a tough start, the Hawks are determined to hit their stride as the new doubles tandem.

“Erica is an All-NVL player and one of our captains,” Gavigan said. “She stands out as a role model. Each of our double teams is working hard to find their rhythm.”

Pettas and Padilla have teamed up to take over the No. 2 doubles spot. The key down the stretch is the No. 3 squad of Ariola and Varesio.

The Hawks remained perfect at 4-0 with a 4-3 win over Kennedy on Wednesday.

Woodland will visit Wilby on Friday, before hosting Ansonia on Monday and traveling to Torrington on Tuesday.