Woodland boys net best year on the court

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Woodland’s Steve Pec won his second straight NVL doubles tennis title this year, this time with teammate Pat Dietz. The Woodland boys had the best season in the team’s history finishing third at the Class S tournament. –RA ARCHIVE
Woodland’s Steve Pec won his second straight NVL doubles tennis title this year, this time with teammate Pat Dietz. The Woodland boys had the best season in the team’s history finishing third at the Class S tournament. –RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — Woodland boys tennis coach Jim Amato didn’t want to acknowledge a potential peak in his program with this month’s Class S state tournament, but he couldn’t really hide the notion, either.

“I don’t want to make it sound like a culmination, but it was an incredible run of individual success and team success,” Amato said. “Sometimes you don’t get both, but we did.”

The Hawks enjoyed the best season in school history, tearing through the Naugatuck Valley League again to win their third straight league championship. They claimed all three gold medals at the league championships for the second year in a row before topping it off with a third-place showing in the state tournament.

Woodland scored 11 points in the Class S tournament, the most in school history after scoring for the first time last year. East Catholic won the tournament with 21 points.

Kyle Beynor, a senior who won his second straight NVL singles title last month, put together the best state tournament run in school history. Seeded 13th in the bracket, he cruised through his first three matches, including an upset of No. 4 seed Oscar Morris of Weston, which ended up costing the Trojans a share of the state title.

Beynor fell to No. 5 seed Ryan Foster of Classical Magnet in the quarterfinals, finishing just one round away from being the first all-state tennis player in school history. Still, Beynor cemented his place as the top player in program history.

“Kyle Beynor has established himself as the best Woodland tennis player,” Amato said. “He would make the All-Decade team, easily. He had the streak — especially as the No. 1 seed — two gold medals and a quarterfinals berth.”

Steve Pec won his second straight NVL doubles tennis title, this time teaming up with Pat Dietz. Pec also made the third round of the state tournament for the second straight year. Seeded 10th, Pec and Dietz fell to No. 7 Henry Morris and Greg Portner of Weston in straight sets. That team eventually made the semifinals.

“They looked stout in states, until they ran into a juggernaut in Weston,” Amato said.

Matt Murphy also earned a win in Class S singles after placing fourth at the NVL tournament. Nick Rioux and Chris Zmuda teamed up to pull two upsets in Class S doubles, while freshmen Mike Roulanaitis and John Walsh won a state tournament match for the first time in school history.

“We had another first: freshmen who made it out of the first round,” Amato said. “It showed that we’re going to have some more staying power next year in the NVL.”

Four freshmen and three juniors will return from this year’s team, which graduates nine seniors. Those seniors will leave with a 54-match NVL winning streak that spans the entirety of the last three seasons. But the number isn’t the first thing Amato sees when summarizing this team.

“What I’m most proud of is how they did it,” Amato said. “They won and lost with grace. I didn’t think they carried themselves as high and mighty. They didn’t expect anything; they earned everything they got.”