BEACON FALLS — Not that long ago the Woodland boys tennis team was finishing under .500 in the Naugatuck Valley League. Those days seem like a distant memory.
The Hawks are NVL champions — again.
Woodland clinched its second straight league title with a 5-4 victory over Wolcott last Friday. The Hawks finished the NVL season 18-0, undefeated in the league for the second year in a row.
“It’s great to see all the hard work put into the season come together for a second championship,” Woodland coach Jim Amato said.
While Amato stopped short of calling this winning streak a dynasty-like situation, he said this year’s title was special and noted the team is hungry for more victories.
“I don’t plan on stopping the momentum that they have,” said Amato, whose team’s only loss came in a close battle with Berkshire League champion Lewis Mills.
Woodland won five of the six singles matches against Wolcott in last week’s clincher.
The Hawks’ No. 1 singles player, junior Kyle Beynor, led the way with an 8-5 victory over upstart sophomore Alex Gauthier. It was closer than the score indicates.
“The difference was that Kyle has been there before,” Amato said. “They’re evenly matched. That was probably one of the best matches we’ve seen all year.”
Beynor will be the top-seeded player in the NVL singles tournament after winning all of his league singles matches this season, while Gauthier will be seeded second to set the stage for a possible rematch.
No. 2 seed Jimmy Tompkins won his match, 8-1, and has improved throughout the year thanks to change in his style of play.
“Jimmy has become more aggressive and tenacious at the net,” Amato said.
At the No. 3 position, Woodland’s Stephen Pec beat Mario Zizolli, 8-6. Pec completed the year undefeated and is 35-1 over the last two seasons.
Also for the Hawks, Matt Murphy, another NVL tournament singles qualifier, worked the baseline and won his match, 8-6, against Brando Cepelak.
Pat Dietz won his match 8-1 and has continued to be one of the team’s most consistent players. Dietz’s victory in the No. 5 singles hole clinched the championship for Woodland.
Nick Rioux also competed in singles against Wolcott, while the doubles combinations of Chris Zmuda and Mike Ventimiglia, Pat Mulholland and Johan Haile, and Mike Patsiarikas and Alex Tulk all saw action.
The Hawks will have six players competing in the NVL singles and doubles tournaments that was scheduled to begin Thursday in Beacon Falls. The finals are scheduled to be played at Wolcott on Friday.
Tompkins will team with Pec, while Dietz and Rioux will play together in the NVL doubles tournament.
Last year, Woodland’s Mike Krakowski became the first Hawk to win NVL singles gold, while Beynor and Dietz teamed up to win doubles silver.