‘Hounds lay the foundation

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Naugatuck senior Jake Gingold led the Greyhounds on the court this season. –RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck senior Jake Gingold led the Greyhounds on the court this season. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — As Naugatuck boys tennis head coach Brett Hayward began his first year at the helm, he knew the season would be a work in progress. The Greyhounds graduated almost the entire starting lineup from last season.

The goal coming into the season was to make steady progress and build a solid foundation for next year. While the younger players were gaining experience and confidence, senior Jake Gingold had to set the example.

Junior foreign exchange student Ivo Wendt lent support to Gingold, as the two most experienced players did their best to bring along a young crew of players and instill some confidence along the way.

“Jake was our go-to guy and become a great leader on and off the court,” Hayward said. “Ivo offered some stability to the lineup as these younger players began to gain some experience.

“Day in and day out these younger players went out and faced tougher opponents that had lineups filled with juniors and seniors. I knew going in that this would be a rebuilding year and I’m pleased at how far this team progressed in such a short period of time.”

The hard work and solid leadership paid off as the ‘Hounds exceeded all expectations qualifying for the NVL tournament. Naugatuck needed a crucial win late in the season and came up with a come-from-behind win, 5-4, against Woodland that put them into the NVL tourney.

The two players they have been counting on the entire season — Gingold and Wendt —dropped tough 8-6 matches. The younger ‘Hounds needed to step up.

P.J. Morrissey earned an 8-5 win over James Nelson to get Naugatuck on track. Marco Rebelo went to work and earned an 8-2 win over Mike Normand. Naugatuck was tied at the end of the singles portion of the match after Alec Durante pulled out an 8-4 win over Elif Abedin.

Woodland gained the lead at 4-3 winning the first doubles match, and Naugy’s postseason bid was on the line. Morrissey and Matt Triscritti went to work and tied the match with a convincing 8-1 win.

In the final doubles match Durante and Jacob Torres teamed up to turn back Arianna Sherwood and Rayhan Lauzeri, 9-8, winning the tie breaker by a slim 8-6 margin.

Naugatuck (5-10) went on to the NVL team tournament and was eliminated by runner-up Holy Cross, 5-1, in the quarterfinals. Wendt secured the only win of the day for the ‘Hounds winning the No. 2 singles match.

The Greyhounds were represented by Wendt and Gingold as well as the tandems of Morrissey and Rebelo, and Triscritti and Durante in the NVL individual tournament last week.

Gingold, who was 6-9 on the season with a win over eventual NVL singles champion D.J. Baisallion of Holy Cross, earned the Greyhounds’ only victory in the tournament. Gingold defeated Torrington’s Brandon Becker-Abbott, 8-0, in the first round of the tournament. Gingold fell to Watertown’s Ryan Nelson in the second round, 8-0.

The tennis season came to a close as the Greyhounds, who finished the regular season 5-10, didn’t qualify for states. But, the Greyhounds gained valuable experience this season and laid a solid foundation for next year.