By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds are doing exactly what girls tennis coach Jose Sendra has preached for years: play their best when it matters the most.
After a rocky 0-4 start, the Greyhounds won five straight to climb to 5-4.
The team is back to full strength after starting the season with some players missing due to quarantine issues. That’s a relief for assistant coach Stephanie Deluca, who held down the fort over the first few weeks.
“We had a tough start with some players being out,” said Deluca, a former Greyhound who played on Naugatuck’s first NVL championship team in 1991. “Once we started to get those players back we started to put together a little bit more consistency.”
Naugy continued its winning ways April 30 with a 7-0 sweep of Kennedy.
Senior Kasia Deptula earned an 8-2 win at No. 1 singles, and juniors Shravani Daptardar and Mia Grella both won 8-0 matches at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively. Senior Ashley Antunes was awarded a forfeit win at No. 4 singles.
In doubles, senior Rebecca Carney and junior Tiffany Nguyen won 8-1. Senior Diana Rebelo and junior Alena Rotatori won 8-2, and senior Ally LaBarre and Trinity Crisanti made it a clean sweep with an 8-1 win.
The Greyhounds pulled away from Woodland with a 6-1 win May 4 to extend the run to five victories in a row.
The highlight of the match for Naugy came in No. 3 singles. Grella trailed Woodland’s Bella Mastropietro, 7-4, before coming from behind to earn a 9-7 win.
Deptula (8-1), Daptardar (8-0) and Antunes (8-1) picked up victories in singles play. LaBarre and Crisanti (8-6), and Rotatori and Nguyen (8-3) earned wins in doubles play.
The Greyhounds have four matches left on the schedule before the postseason. The homestretch includes rematches against Watertown on May 7 and Wolcott on May 14, which both beat Naugy this season 6-1.
“The goal is to give some of those teams that gave us trouble in the early part of the season to give them some trouble in the next go-around,” coach Sendra said. “We have Watertown and Wolcott coming up, and we lost to both of them 6-1 at the beginning of the season. We will see how far we have come it will be a good measuring stick.”
The lineup is mostly locked in as the Greyhounds look to the NVL tournament. The team’s four single spots are solidified with Deptula, Daptardar, Grella and Antunes.
“Ashley (Antunes), our only returning varsity player from the 2019 championship team, doesn’t do a whole lot of talking but is a leader,” Sendra said. “She does her talking with a racket out on the court. She plays with a lot of fire inside.”
Sendra said doubles will be Carney and Nguyen, Rotatori and Rebelo, and LaBarre and Pecor with Crisanti filling in when necessary.