Woodland boys advance to NVL tennis championship

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

The Naugatuck Valley League postseason got underway this week with the boys and girls tennis tournaments.

The Naugatuck boys and girls entered their respective tourneys as defending champions from 2019. The Greyhounds fell short of defending their titles, while the Woodland boys advanced to the championship.

The No. 3 Woodland boys, who finished the regular season 9-4, knocked off No. 2 Wolcott, 3-2, in the semifinals on May 20. The Hawks advanced to face No. 1 Watertown in the championship match May 21 at 3:45 p.m. at Wilby.

The Hawks lost twice to Wolcott (13-2) in the regular season, but turned the tables on the Eagles in the tournament.

“After losing to them twice, I think we were better equipped,” Woodland head coach Ryan McEvoy said. “We had some time to focus on some skills that we needed to improve. I think now we are in a much better place than we were earlier in the season.”

Andy Hopkinson (6-2, 7-6) and Tyler Macdowall (6-4, 6-4) won singles matches, and the doubles team of Kayo Niebrzydowski and Nick Bshara clinched the win for the Hawks.

Woodland swept Torrington, 5-0, in the quarterfinals on May 19. Austin Roberts (6-1, 6-0), Hopkinson (6-0, 6-0) and Macdowall (6-0, 6-0) won in singles play. In doubles, Bshara- Niebrzydowski (6-2, 6-1) and Tyler Cyr-Brian O’Connell (4-6, 6-4, 10-7) made it a clean sweep.

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The Greyhounds finished the regular season 5-8 and earned the No. 4 seed.

Naugatuck opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over No. 5 Holy Cross on May 19. Jay Barth (7-5, 4-6, 10-7) and Julio Perez (6-2, 6-2) gave Naugy the lead going into doubles. Ethan Campana-Alex Felix (6-4, 7-5) clinched the win.

Watertown swept Naugy, 5-0, in the semifinals.

“We squeaked out some big victories the last two weeks to put us in this position,” Naugatuck head coach Brett Hayward said. “This is the best time of year, win or go home and our boys were ready for the task.”

On the girls’ side, Naugy entered the tournament 11-4 and the No. 4 seed.

The Greyhounds got past No. 5 Seymour, 6-1, in the quarterfinals, but fell to No. 2 Watertown, 4-3, in the semifinals May 20.

Shravani Daptardar (8-4) and Ashley Antunes (8-6) earned wins in singles play against Watertown. Allyson LaBarre-Hope Pecor earned a 9-8 win in doubles.

“We started out the season with some players quarantined,” Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra said. “We wouldn’t be here without assistant coach Stephanie Deluca, who has been holding everything together. Our girls really stepped up after starting out 0-4, and we knew it would be a battle. Watertown is always our nemesis.”

The Woodland girls finished the regular season 9-6 and entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Hawks pushed No. 2 Holy Cross to the brink in a 4-3 loss in the quarterfinals on May 19.

No. 3 Bella Mastropietro (8-4) and No. 4 Yasmeen Galal (8-6) pulled out tough wins in singles.  In doubles, Olivia Vallejo-Brooke Reilly edged out an 8-6 win.

“We were right there, we had it,” Woodland head coach Jessica DeGennaro said. “We were down and then our number 3 and 4, both freshmen, got us back in it. Our first doubles won and then our number two that was unbeaten all season lost. So proud of these girls.”

The individual tournaments are set for May 24-25. Each team will send two singles players and two doubles teams to duke it out for a league title.