High expectations for Hawks

Woodland boys tennis captains Nick Hudson, left, and Josh Powanda will lead the Hawks this season. –KYLE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — The cupboard is anything but bare for the Woodland boys tennis team.

With almost all of last year’s starting lineup returning this spring, coach Mike Magas and his Hawks have high expectations on the court.

“We returned pretty much everyone,” Magas said. “The first- through ninth-seeded players from last year all returned. We have a great crew coming back. We’re going to have higher expectations this year, without a doubt. Wolcott, Torrington, Naugatuck and Holy Cross will all be competing (for the Naugatuck Valley League title), so we want to be right there with them.”

Woodland boasts a pair of tall and talented singles players who should be among the top athletes in the league. No. 1 singles player Josh Powanda finished as the NVL runner-up last season and reached the third round of the Class S tournament. No. 2 Nick Hudson also enjoyed a strong season and advanced to the state tournament.

The rest of Woodland’s singles lineup from last year also returns with Richie Weishner, Dante Polletta, Devon Polletta and Austin Roberts. The Hawks also bring back several players who saw doubles action.

Despite the vast number of returning athletes, the squad will have a different look this season. The NVL changed its meet format to align itself with most other leagues.

In the past, meets consisted of six singles matches and three doubles matches that were played in sets to eight. In those meets, the singles players could come back and play in doubles matches.

This year, though, meets will consist of three singles matches and two doubles matches played in a two-set format (with a super tiebreaker if needed), but each athlete will only be allowed to play one match per day.

“It’s a different strategy,” Magas said. “Even though it’s fewer matches, it adds one more player to the mix. The old format, you could play with just six players and have them play both singles and doubles. Now our strategy has to change because we need to decide who’s going to focus on singles and who’s going to focus on doubles. That’s something we’ll figure out early in the season.”

Woodland is scheduled to open the season with a pair of home meets Monday vs. Wolcott and Wednesday vs. Sacred Heart.