In the mix

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Naugatuck girls among contenders for the crown

Naugatuck’s Crystal Wooster, left, returns a volley alongside her partner, Karla Iglesias, during a match against Emily Negron and Heather Brown of Sacred Heart May 6 at Naugatuck High School. Wooster and Iglesias won their match, 8-6, as the Greyhounds won overall, 6-1. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck’s Crystal Wooster, left, returns a volley alongside her partner, Karla Iglesias, during a match against Emily Negron and Heather Brown of Sacred Heart May 6 at Naugatuck High School. Wooster and Iglesias won their match, 8-6, as the Greyhounds won overall, 6-1. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls tennis team heads into the NVL tournament as one of six teams that have an equal chance of bringing home the championship hardware.

The Greyhounds finished as runner-ups last year to Woodland and coming into this season head coach Jose Sendra was expecting a rebuilding year, at best.

The girls had other thoughts in mind. The Hounds stand at a surprising 10-4 mark with Wilby on the schedule for Friday before the NVL tournament on Monday.

“The girls came into the season not only ready to play but ready to compete,” Sendra said. “Some of the girls never played before but their athleticism allows them to be competitive. They have achieved success using the old baseball analogy, ‘Hit em where they ain’t.’”

Naugatuck did a lot of that on Monday to rack up win number 10 against Torrington, 6-1. Sarah Cook, the Greyhounds’ No. 1 singles player, survived an 8-5 battle over Taryn Canfield.

Liz Perez, who has been almost automatic all season long, bested Julia Traub by a wide 8-2 margin. Kelly Carr found herself in a back-and-forth affair with Reina Lee and wound up on the short end of an 8-6 marathon.

Tathiana Serrano gave Naugatuck a 3-1 edge heading into the doubles portion of the match with an 8-3 win over Paige Middleton.

Naugy closed out Torrington sweeping the doubles with Abigail Jang and Floraine Evardo pulling out an 8-6 win. The tandem of Ally Mezzo and Kelly Murphy took an 8-1 win, and the duo of Karla Iglesias and Crystal Wooster won an easy 8-2 decision.

“We had lost six solid players from last year so to even be mediocre at best would not have surprised me,” Sendra said. “The key is to make sure that you at least return everything over the net and let your opponent make the mistake. Not only do you need to be good it certainly doesn’t hurt to get lucky once in a while.”

Sendra is confident heading into the NVL tournament.

“Going into the tournament it’s really anyone’s game,” Sendra said. “I’m confident in our four single players, and our double teams keep getting better with each match as they learn to play with each other.”

Sendra added, “There are six teams all with an equal shot at the title. We beat Watertown twice and they are 10-3. We lost twice to Wolcott, but they lost to Watertown. Kennedy is going to be tough at 9-4 and Jim Sullivan has done a tremendous job with that team.”

The key is surviving, Sendra said.

“It all comes down to surviving the quarterfinals on Tuesday and moving on to the semifinals,” he said. “From there anything can happen and to end up playing for the title for the second year in a row would be a successful season.”