BY KEN MORSE
The Naugatuck boys tennis team was in a learn as you go phase with coach Brett Hayward working to rebuild the young, inexperienced squad. The Greyhounds had an encouraging 2-2 record when storm clouds appeared overhead in the form of the top teams in the NVL on the horizon.
Naugy battled through a stretch of meets against Torrington, Watertown and Woodland twice over a two-week span, but the four-game losing skid that resulted did little to shake the confidence of this team of battlers.
“It’s been a rough go, that’s for sure,” said Hayward, “but I’m proud of these boys for the way they stood up and fought for every point. It didn’t matter to them who we were facing. They proved that they are no easy outs.”
It’s that kind of resiliency that tends to build strong foundations for teams in the rebuilding phase. It was no walk in the park for Woodland on April 22 when it battled Naugy.
“We just came out of a two-week stretch facing the top teams in the league and we are still standing and I couldn’t be more proud of the way my boys battled,” said Hayward.
Julio Perez at No. 1 singles (1-6, 3-6) and the No. 1 doubles team of Alex Felix and Manase Mutshima (1-6, 3-6) showed the kind of tenacity the Greyhounds had against Woodland.
Naugatuck got back in the win column on April 27 with back-to-back 5-0 decisions over Wilby. In the first go-around, Perez (8-4), Aidan Lau (8-4) and Brian Barth (8-1) earned victories in singles play.
The Greyhounds doubles teams of Mutshima-Felix (8-3) at No. 1 and Brandon Miranda and Marcus Baptist (8-0) at No. 2 finished the sweep in the first matchup with the Wildcats.
Naugy improved to 4-6 on the season with the second 5-0 win over Wilby. Perez (8-3), Lau (8-6), and Felix (8-0) scored wins in singles play. The doubles tandems of Barth-Mutshima (8-1) and Miranda-Baptist (8-0) finished off the sweep.
“We have a couple of matches left on the schedule that we can win,” said Hayward. “We have a few more against some tough opponents, but we are taking the court for every match with the attitude that we can be competitive.”
Naugy is scheduled to be at Watertown on Monday and at Kennedy on Wednesday.
BY KEN MORSE