Holy Cross, Watertown girls teams will be the favorites in NVL girls tennis

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The NVL girls tennis tournament may have a few surprises along the way, as the team with the best record may not be the last one standing. Several teams are in the hunt and heading into the final week of the season a few teams are riding a wave of momentum that could derail any hopefuls along the way.
Watertown, last year’s champion and Holy Cross, the runner-up, would like nothing more than a rematch, but several teams are peaking at the right moment and that could turn this thing into a frenzy.
To take a favorite quote from Naugatuck coach Jose Sendra: “The key is to be playing your best when it counts the most.”
That right there is the ingredient to success, especially in a one-and-done tournament setting. Watertown and Holy Cross are right at the top of the standings, with the Crusaders giving the Warriors their first NVL loss May 12, 4-3.
Then comes a host of teams that are on the rise, including a very tough Wolcott team elevating their play. Woodland has been competitive, Ansonia has been surprising, and Naugatuck is making a late bid to turn things around.
“Last year we were the No. 7 seed and this year we are No. 4 so that is a big accomplishment that we are proud of as a team,” said Woodland coach Jessica DeGennaro. “We head down the stretch with a three-match winning streak and that’s a good place to be heading into the tournament.”
Woodland is young, inexperienced but loaded with potential. That makes them a dangerous team with nothing to lose. Sophomore Bella Mastropietro is at No. 1 singles followed by junior Audrey Fencil at No. 2 singles.
The Hawks No. 3 and 4 singles players, senior Brooke Reilly and sophomore Yasmeen Galal, have been the strength of the team, usually getting Woodland even heading into doubles play.
Senior Meghan Ruhl and junior Rylie Montini are at No. 1 doubles. Junior Cate Fazzone and freshman Laura DeGennaro are at No. 2 doubles and at No. 3 is junior Vivien Mogyoros and freshman Abigail Raffone. Junior Cori Patchkofsky has also been in the mix.
Naugatuck started strong and then went into a tough stretch. Recently they were starting to come out of it and hopefully that momentum will carry over into the tournament.
“The struggle this year was establishing a steady lineup,” said Sendra. “Mia, Shravani, Tiffany and Alena have done a tremendous job leading this team. Jade and Emily have made huge gains and are competing.”
Seniors Mia Grella (No. 1), Shravani Daptardar (No. 2) and Tiffany Nguyen (No.3) carry the top three singles spots for the Greyhounds, bringing a wealth of experience. Sophomore Camryn Smith takes up the No. 4 slot.
The strength of the doubles teams are senior Alena Rotatori and sophomore Ava DeFilippo at No. 1 doubles. Senior Emily Meyer and junior Josephine Burke are at No. 2 doubles. The final doubles team is senior Jade Rodriquez-Dilone and sophomore Amy Morrissey.
“Ava is a first-year player,” added Sendra. “She has worked her way up through doubles and is now competing as a first doubles partner.”
It may not come down to which team has the better record in order to win the NVL championship, but it most definitely will come down to whichever team is playing the best when it counts the most.