BEACON FALLS — Mike Krakowski is ready. The rest of the Naugatuck Valley League boys tennis ranks might not be.
Woodland’s only returning senior is expected to be one of the top singles players in the league this season. But he’s got plenty more to do than just play singles; he needs to groom an otherwise young and inexperienced lineup.
“As the lone returning senior, I feel I have an important role in setting a foundation for the year,” Krakowski said. “I know my game and I know I never give up in a match. I want this mindset to be instilled in every one of our players’ minds. That is why I must continue pushing my teammates whether it be on our daily long run or a hitting drill.”
Krakowski was the No. 1 singles player last year for a team that went 8-10 overall. He earned All-NVL honors in doubles with Pat Bradley after the duo finished in the top four in the NVL doubles tournament.
But Bradley’s gone, as is Mohamed Shitia and Ahmed Galal, who both contributed in every match in singles, doubles, or both.
That leaves a fairly young roster to work with and plenty of holes to fill in the lineup. Krakowski expects a group of sophomores to step up to bolster the squad.
“I expect Matt Murphy and Steve Pec to step up in singles,” Krakowski said. “They are both up and coming players who will have more weight to carry with the departure of some of last year’s seniors. With doubles, Kyle Beynor and Pat Dietz are returning as partners. It is good to have a doubles team with prior experience, because they know how to play well with one another.”
With such a young team, it’s tough for Krakowski and the Hawks to pinpoint goals, but he thinks hard work can lead to some historic achievements come the end of the season.
“To be successful this year we must practice harder,” Krakowski said. “We have already started on this aspect. I cannot remember a tennis season where we ran more. It is tiring, but it is only making us better. As for our team goals, we will be making it to states as a team this year. In three years, I have never gone to states with my team. We all look to change that this year.”
As for Krakowski himself, he wants to do something never before done in the history of Woodland tennis—be the best player in the NVL.
“My goals for this season are rather simple—win Woodland its first gold in the NVL tournament,” Krakowski said. “I know past players that I have looked up to, like Joe Rosa, have come very close and I feel that it would be a large step for our program.”
The Hawks were set to begin their season today at Naugatuck before hosting their first match of the year Saturday morning against Kennedy.