BEACON FALLS — A surprise pair of Naugatuck tennis players earned the right to play for the NVL doubles title.
Abigail Jang and Floraine Evardo teamed up to reach the final day of the NVL individual girls tennis tournament last Friday at Woodland Regional High School. The pair finished as the NVL runner-up falling, 6-1, 6-1, to Watertown’s Rachel Martineau and Mary Zaborowski.
“I’m very proud of these girls to make it this far,” Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra said. “We bested the NVL champion Watertown twice in the regular season and finished third in the league, and I’m so proud of all the girls for what they have achieved.”
The partnership between Jang and Evardo didn’t materialize until the season was under way. Evardo went on vacation during the season and when she returned the singles spot she held taken by someone else.
“I basically told her that the singles spot was taken and she needed to move over to the doubles team,” Sendra said. “She wasn’t at all happy about the situation but it turned out well. They are the first girls ever to make it to the finals since I’ve been coach, so we had a very successful season.”
Evardo admitted she wasn’t happy about the change at first, but made the best of the situation.
“I wanted no part of doubles,” Evardo said. “But because I love tennis so much I stuck with it, and Abi and I have formed a real close bond on the court and we were successful right from the start. I never thought we would get this far. I’m so proud of us and what we’ve been able to accomplish this season.”
The unlikely pair of Greyhounds exceeded all expectations. Jang and Evardo defeated Woodland’s Alyssa Varesio and Chloe Ariola, 8-6, in the quarterfinals. They kept the momentum going in the semifinals knocking of the Seymour duo of Anita Duquette and Madison Baur, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 margin.
“When we were teamed up we started to win all of our matches and we really jelled playing together,” Jang said. “We are fighters and our similar demeanor makes us tough to beat because we never quit.”
Another surprise of sorts came in the singles semifinals where Woodland’s Ally Mayne lost for the first time this season. She fell, 7-6 (4), 6-4, to Kennedy’s Sarah Namazi.
“It was a tough situation,” said Mayne about dropping her first match of the season. “The girl from Kennedy played really well; she deserved it and is a real tough competitor.
“I did my best and that’s all I can ask of myself. The first match went to a tiebreaker because we both won six games. It was hard for me to get back the momentum. I feel pretty accomplished for the season. I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did, so I’m very pleased at how far I’ve come.”
Mayne defeated Jenna Skerritt of Wolcott in the quarterfinals, 8-1, to reach the semifinals.