Woodland boys tennis coach Jim Amato doesn’t like to call his team dynastic, but at this point it’s tough to label it anything else.
For the second year in a row, the Hawks swept the NVL boys tennis titles last week at Wolcott. Kyle Beynor repeated his singles championship with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Naugatuck’s Julian Milek, and the team of Steve Pec and Pat Dietz knocked off Kennedy’s Xhoni Qyteza and Klaudio Luarasi, 6-2, 7-5, for a repeat doubles title.
“There are just times in a coach’s career when the planets align and so do the players,” said Amato, whose team is undefeated in the NVL over the past three seasons. “Before this group of seniors, this team never had a winning record. Our first winning record was 19-0 (in 2011) and they’ve continued that.”
Beynor, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeated Wolcott’s Alex Gauthier, 6-4, 6-2, in the semifinals before holding off Milek. Gauthier and Milek earlier this season handed Beynor the only NVL losses of his singles career.
Beynor notched the only break of the final’s first set in the very first game, which came shortly after Milek survived a three-set semifinal with Woodland’s Matt Murphy. Milek broke Murphy in the final game to win the set, 6-4, about 2 ½ hours after the match began.
With the final on serve at 5-4 in the second, Milek fell behind 0-30 on a pair of double faults before committing three more double faults with the advantage. On the fifth deuce, Beynor dropped a topspin lob over the tall left-hander to earn his third match point, and he won the match with a forehand winner at net.
“I love the net,” said Beynor, a senior. “I love doubles more than singles and net is somewhere I feel comfortable. I just love working there.”
Beynor is one of two Woodland players to win NVL singles gold (after Mike Krakowski in 2011) and the only one to win twice.
“He’s got internal motivation,” Amato said. “He’s smart when it comes to playing tennis. He likes to know things. He always makes his weaknesses his strengths.”
Pec won his second straight doubles title with a new partner in Dietz. Pec teamed up with Jimmy Tompkins last season and said playing with Dietz feels the same.
“That’s why I like playing with Pat, because they’re similar players,” Pec said. “They’re both very consistent and good at net. It wasn’t much of a transition.”
The Hawks duo cruised through the first set and held a two-break lead at 5-2 in the second. Qyteza and Luarasi got back both breaks to tie the set, but Woodland broke right back and won on its second match point thanks to a Kennedy error.
“We started thinking about gold too much,” Dietz said. “They started coming back at us because they’re very good players. They got us while we were on our toes but we got back into it.”
Third-round success at states: Three of Woodland’s entries in the Class S state tournament made it to the third round Tuesday in West Hartford.
Beynor, the No. 13 seed in the singles draw, won his first two matches to reach the third round for the second year in a row. He cruised past Granby’s Jack DiPierro, 6-1, 6-0, in the first match before knocking off Stonington’s Avery Oefinger, 6-0, 6-2. Beynor was set to resume play Wednesday.
Murphy also earned a singles win, beating Shepaug’s Kirby Peters, 6-0, 6-3, in the first round before falling to the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Old Lyme’s Morgan White, in the second.
All three of the Hawks’ doubles teams won at least a match in their draw. Nick Rioux and Chris Zmuda earned two tough victories: a 6-3, 5-7, (10-7) win over Lyman Memorial’s Stephen Gervase and Tony Kuang and a 7-6 (2), 6-2 upset of No. 13 Anthony Amato and Greg Valentine from Shepaug. The Woodland duo bowed out in the third round.
Pec and Dietz, seeded 10th, won their second-round match over Westbrook’s Seamus Ashburner and Michael Schneider, 6-1, 6-2, after earning a bye. They fell to No. 7 Henry Morris and Greg Pornter of Weston in the third round.
Michael Roulanaitis and John Walsh also earned a win, beating a Northwestern squad in the first round before testing No. 9 Chris Coman and Richie Hefler of Canton in the second round.