BEACON FALLS — The top two powers in Naugatuck Valley League boys tennis met on Monday. The defending league champ maintained its superiority.
Woodland held off Wolcott, 5-4, in the Hawks’ closest match of the season. The victory stretched the team’s two-season winning streak to 25 matches, including a 6-0 mark this year.
No. 1 singles player Kyle Beynor easily won his match over Zak Karpicki, 8-1, to stay undefeated (26-0) in his singles career.
“It gives everybody a great boost of confidence knowing that the No. 1 seed is going to play as hard as he possibly can to put the team in a good position to win,” coach Jim Amato said. “It makes everyone else want to work as hard to do the same.”
Pat Dietz beat Lou Spina, 8-5, and Stephen Pec defeated Brandon Cepelak, 8-1, for the Hawks’ other two singles victories. Pec’s win helped him stay a perfect 6-0 on the season.
“Steve is playing great ball,” Amato said. “He’s one of the big reasons we won. He was going after things. He doesn’t have the big standings and he plays in the lower ranks, but he plays very smart, crisp tennis.”
For the first time this season, Woodland used its top singles players in doubles action. Beynor and Dietz, who teamed to win last year’s NVL silver medals, easily won their match, but the Hawks’ chances came down to a rally by Pec and Jimmy Tompkins in the No. 2 doubles match.
The duo trailed Alex Gauthier and Mario Zizolli, 3-0, to start the match, but Pec and Tompkins rallied back and trailed, 8-7, and faced two match points at 15-40.
Pec and Tompkins fought off both points to force deuce, and they broke to force a tiebreaker. A Wolcott double fault and error broke a 5-5 deadlock in the breaker to give the Woodland team a 9-8 (7-5) win and the decisive match victory to beat the Eagles.
“In that match, it was going to be a matter of who made the last mistake,” Amato said.
The victory over previously unbeaten Wolcott came after a string of blowouts, including a 7-1-1 win over Holy Cross in a rain-shortened match last Thursday.
All six singles players took victories in that match, including Matt Murphy and Nick Rioux. Rioux and Mike Patsiarikas have rotated in the No. 6 singles position throughout the season, giving Woodland a highly competitive set of top-ranked players.
“As a team, you can’t ask for much more in consistency from top to bottom,” Amato said.
Patsiarikas and Chris Zmuda were tied in their doubles match when rain hit, while Kevin Kozera and Vigan Mulahu were trailing when the match was called. Mike Ventimiglia and Johan Haile had a 2-0 lead when action was cut short.
Amato expects more challenges like the one Wolcott provided on Monday. The Hawks visit Crosby on Wednesday, host Torrington on Friday and Naugatuck on Monday.
“Wolcott was there to topple us because we’ve had a good run,” Amato said. “We were playing a little to protect something we don’t own yet.”