Hawks sweep up gold at NVL tourney

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Woodland's Kyle Beynor returns a shot during his match with Wolcott's Mario Zizolli during the NVL tennis championships last Friday at Wolcott High School. Beynor capped an undefeated season in the NVL by winning the singles tournament. –RA ARCHIVE

WOLCOTT — In 2011, the Woodland boys tennis team won the Naugatuck Valley League championship and had players take singles gold and doubles silver. The Hawks took a step up in 2012.

After winning the league title two weeks ago, Woodland swept the gold medals at last week’s individual tournaments. Kyle Beynor capped an undefeated season in the NVL by winning the singles tournament while Jimmy Tompkins and Steve Pec captured the first doubles gold in school history.

Beynor, a junior who was part of last year’s silver-winning doubles team with Pat Dietz, beat Wolcott’s Alex Gauthier, 7-5, 6-2, in the final. That followed a 6-0, 6-0, semifinal victory over Wolcott’s Mario Zizoli.

“This means so much,” Beynor said. “This is where all the hard work and dedication pays off.”

Beynor took advantage of Gauthier’s fatigue after Woodland’s Matt Murphy pushed him to a three-set match in the semifinals. Murphy eventually lost, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, in a three hours, and finished fourth in the tournament.

“The thought in my mind was to move him around the court,” Beynor said. “That he had anything more left in the tank was incredible.”

Gauthier had a 5-4 lead in the first set before Beynor settled in to win the last three games to earn the set.

“I told him, ‘Don’t play for the gold,” Woodland coach Jim Amato said. “‘Just play tennis and the gold will come.’”

Tompkins and Pec beat Wolcott’s Zac Karpicki and Brandon Cepelak, 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals before ousting Wilby’s Frank Sanchez and Robert Sapp, 6-1, 6-4, in the championship.

Tompkins and Pec rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the second set to come back for the victory.

“We were definitely down on ourselves,” Pec, a junior, said. “Frank and Rob play with a lot of energy. Coach (Amato) told us to play how we’ve been taught, and we know how to play.”

Tompkins and Pec were eliminated in the doubles first round last year before cruising to this year’s championship.

“We matured a lot,” Tompkins, a senior, said. “We got mad last year. This year, we kept our heads.”

The gold medal sweep marks the first such occurrence in school history. Last year, Mike Krakowski became the first player in school history to win the singles gold. Now, the Hawks have two singles champs in two years.

Woodland is set to begin Class S state tournament play Thursday.

The Republican American contributed to this article.