By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
In a season that feels like trying to make up for lost time, the Naugatuck and Woodland boys tennis teams will ramp up after a slow start.
Naugy had only one match in the opening week of the season after two contests were postponed due to the opponents being quarantined. The Greyhounds had to go outside the league after their NVL opening match was cancelled, and opened the season April 10 against Southington.
The CCC opponent proved to be a handful for the 2019 NVL champions. The Knights earned a 5-0 win over the Greyhounds.
“It was a great opportunity to see competition outside the league and play against a team that is at a higher level,” head coach Brett Hayward said.
No. 1 Fernando Moreno and No. 3 Julio Perez dropped singles matches 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 singles Jay Barth fell 6-1, 6-0. The No. 1 doubles team of Aiden Lau-Brian Barth and the No. 2 doubles tandem of William Zheng-Ethan Campana both fell 6-0, 6-1.
Hayward said his Greyhounds are working hard at their craft and getting better in the process. He was glad to get a match under their belt with league play scheduled to start on April 19 against Woodland, before matches against Torrington on April 21 and Wolcott on April 23.
“The team is being thrown into the grinder and wouldn’t want it any other way,” Hayward said. “When competition presents itself, do you cower away or stand up and give it your best shot? The drive to get better each day makes me believe our boys will stand up and that’s all I can ask of them.”
The Hawks dropped a match to start the season before picking up the first win for new head coach Ryan McEvoy.
Woodland lost to Wolcott, 5-0, on April 10. Andy Hopkinson lost 6-3, 7-5 at No. 1 singles. No. 2 Tyler MacDowell dropped a tie breaker 6-1, 3-6, (6-10) and No. 3 Kayo Niebrzydowski fell 6-4, 7-5. In doubles, Nick Bshara-Brian O’Connell lost 6-2, 6-1, and Carter Davis-Tyler Cyr fell 6-1, 6-3.
The Hawks rebounded with a 3-0 win over Sacred Heart on April 14. The Hearts forfeited a singles and doubles match. It marked the first career win for coach McEvoy.
MacDowell and Hopkinson picked up shutout victories in singles play. The doubles team of O’Connell-Davis won 6-1, 6-0.
The Hawks improved to 2-1 with a 4-1 win over Kennedy on April 17, according to the CIAC’s website.
“The season is progressing,” McEvoy said. “I thought we put up a good fight against a very good Wolcott team. A lot of the matches were close.”
After the Naugatuck match on April 19, the Hawks are set to play Watertown on April 21 and Torrington on April 26.