Woodland boys tennis looks to finish NVL team championship journey

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The final week of the boys NVL tennis season is wrapping up as teams are vying for the top seeds in the upcoming league tournament. Woodland, last year’s NVL runner-up, is back looking to take care of unfinished business, while the Greyhounds will be looking to take it as far as they can.
The quarterfinals will begin play Tuesday with the semifinals on tap for Wednesday. The team championship will be decided on Friday before the NVL individual championship tournament will get underway May 23-24.
It appears that it could come down to a rematch of last year’s title tilt between Watertown and Woodland. There are a few teams that might have a say in it as well with Wolcott posing a threat, along with Torrington and Naugy looking to make some noise as well.
“There’s a little bit of pressure, but our guys are stepping up to meet that added pressure,” said Woodland coach Ryan McEvoy. “They are a hard working dedicated group and they want to win.
“I believe that since they are looking to take care of some unfinished business, it’s pushing them to do more and work a little harder and to be more prepared.”
Woodland returns its entire squad from last year minus one player, Austin Roberts, who graduated. The Hawks are led by All-NVL doubles champions, Andy Hopkinson and Tyler Macdowall, who are playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles this year.
Junior Kayo Niebrzydowski fills in the No. 3 singles slot. At No. 1 doubles is the 2021 All-NVL pair of juniors Nick Bshara and Brian O’Connell. Senior Diego Sargent and junior Evan Lin team up as the No. 2 doubles team. Senior Aiden Kennedy and junior Nate Bouffard are also in the mix.
“Naugatuck is working hard everyday trying to prepare for the NVL tournament,” said Greyhound coach Brett Hayward. “We have the team tournament and the individual tournament. There is also an outside chance of qualifying for the state tournament.
The Greyhounds have been battle-tested facing the top teams in the circuit over a two week span. Naugy gained a little traction picking up a few wins down the stretch and enter the tournament looking to take it as far as they can.
Senior Julio Perez at No. 1 singles leads the way. Senior Alexander Felix along with juniors Aidan Lau and William Zheng fill out the rest of the singles lineup.
The No. 1 doubles team of junior Brian Barth and sophomore Manase Mutshima has shown improvement and is gaining some momentum heading into the tournament. Juniors Brandon Miranda and Marcus Baptist team up at No. 2 doubles.
It will come down to whatever team is prepared to seize the day. Last year, being in the unfamiliar position of playing for a league championship, Woodland may not have known what it meant to be prepared. They won’t make that mistake this year and they appear to be ready to do what it will take to seize the day.