NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys tennis team is certainly making a whole lot of racquet this season.
Three-time defending NVL boys tennis champion Wolcott (8-0) and Torrington (6-0) are at the front of the pack. While the Greyhounds may not be at their level yet, they are pounding on the door rather loudly at 4-2 on the season.
The Greyhounds are trending up. They were 5-11 two season ago. Last year, in Anthony Mariano’s first year as head coach, Naugatuck improved to 9-6.
With a second year of experience under his belt, Mariano is looking to take Naugy to the next level. A 5-4 win over Holy Cross on April 20 was a positive sign, as the Greyhounds bounced back from a loss to Wolcott the day before.
“It was nice to see everyone stick together as a team and come out of Holy Cross with a win,” Mariano said. “Holy Cross is always one of those top teams in the league and to get a win like that was a big confidence booster for us as a team.”
The Greyhounds are led by Marco Rebelo and Mike Rivera, who bear the brunt of the opponents’ wrath as the top two singles players for Naugatuck. They duo has found success as an effective doubles team.
“It’s been a really great start to the season the way the matches have been going,” said P.J. Morrissey, who is 5-1 as the No. 3 singles player for the Greyhounds. “Our one and two guys have to play the top players from around the league, so it’s been pretty tough on Marco and Mike. But our three and four seeds, with Alec Durante and myself, we have been able to turn most matches around and give us a lot of confidence heading into the doubles portion of the matches.”
Morrissey was able to do just that in the victory over the Crusaders earning an 8-1 win over Trey Denardo of Holy Cross.
“It’s been a total team effort to get where we are right now,” Morrissey added. “It’s definitely given me more confidence as a player knowing that I can hang in with some of the best players in the league.
“We dropped our first two matches against Holy Cross so it was pretty intense having to come back the way we did. Matt Triscritti and Brandon Sampaio have also picked it up as our five and six seeds and that has really made a huge difference.”
Triscritti and Sampaio have solid 4-2 marks on the season and give the Greyhounds some stability going into the doubles portion of matches. Freshman John Mezzo and Nelson Lavoura have shown their wares in doubles along with sophomores Jesse Lanci and Zakary Robushi.
Senior Rob Spino along with juniors Nattanit Chalermwisutkul and Dylan Triscritti have also found success in doubles matches.
Mariano said Rebelo and Rivera are key to the Greyhounds’ success.
“Marco and Mike have a tough go of it in every match and I try and keep them positive through it all,” Mariano said. “The outcome of the match isn’t all on their shoulders. And they are very good players and have shown that in the doubles finding success.
“The key to our success is keeping them engaged and keeping them confident and they have had success as an effective doubles team. We are definitely going to need them down the stretch heading into the NVLs.”
Naugatuck has four matches scheduled in five days starting with a match against Wilby on Friday in Waterbury. The Greyhounds will play Crosby on Saturday, Wilby again on May 1 and Woodland on May 2.