New coach, same work ethic for Greyhounds

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Naugatuck High School junior Miranda Jang returns to the court this year as a captain and the No. 1 singles player for the Greyhounds. FILE PHOTO
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls tennis team ushers in its third new coach in three seasons.

In 2009, Amanda Petruzzi guided the Greyhounds to their first state tournament appearance in quite a few seasons, compiling a 15-5 ledger after going just 8-10 the year before.

Petruzzi went on to study overseas for her master’s degree and in stepped Naugatuck girls basketball coach Jodie Ruccio, who knew very little about tennis.

Ruccio did know something about getting the most out of her athletes and the team stunned the Naugatuck Valley League in 2010 with a runner-up showing in the championship match against Woodland, going 18-3 on the year.

For the third time in three years the girls tennis team will go under the transition of welcoming a new coach, but one who has the same work ethic and desire to get the most out of his team.

Naugatuck girls soccer coach Jose Sendra knows a thing or two about bringing his teams to the finish line and this year’s tennis team is in good hands with the new coach at the helm.

“I have played tennis for quite a few years,” said Sendra. “Not competitively, but I’m very eager to learn the game and we have a great group of girls coming back this year.”

Naugatuck graduated a lot of senior talent including the top two singles players and the top doubles team.

A return to the title match may be a stretch for this year’s group but Sendra knows a little bit about grooming talent and putting his best effort into the fray.

The Greyhounds are hardly going into the season empty handed though, as they return last year’s No. 3 singles player in junior captain Miranda Jang, who will be the No. 1 seed this year.

At No. 2 singles will be junior Kaitlyn Carter, who was the No. 4 singles player last season. At No. 3 is junior Katie Bottinick, who was in the No. 3 doubles slot last year. Filling out the singles lineup is No. 4 player Andrea Jimenez.

Naugatuck returns three seniors—Megan Wilson, Abigail Janneke and Kristin Cuzzi—who will add to the mix and give the Greyhounds depth and experience.

“These girls have excellent attitudes and are very supportive of one another,” said Sendra. “That is the kind of team chemistry that builds championship teams. They are all excellent students and are working very hard to get better.”

The Greyhounds fill out the lineup with the double tandems of Alexa Ramos and Jess Buckley as first doubles, Megan Wilson and Hannah Kim as second doubles and Lani Chucta and Janneke as third doubles.

“These girls bring good energy out on the court,” added Sendra. “I know Woodland always has a strong team and Holy Cross has some very good singles players. But if we can prepare for each match and work hard we can get better with every match and do just as well as the last two seasons.”

The Greyhounds will find out just how much work is ahead of them early on as they were set to take on Torrington on Wednesday before facing Holy Cross on Saturday.