By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
Before the season started, Woodland boys new tennis coach Ryan McEvoy was struck by his team’s eagerness to get out on the court, even when there was still 2 feet of snow on the ground.
“What impressed me the most was their attitude,” McEvoy said. “That eagerness had me believing we had just as good a chance as anyone to compete for a league title.”
That enthusiasm carried through the NVL postseason.
Woodland’s No. 4 team of Andy Hopkinson and Tyler Macdowall defeated Watertown’s No. 6 combination of Justin Calabrese and Lorenzo Longo, 6-0, 6-0, to win the NVL boys doubles championship May 25 at Wolcott High School.
“It’s amazing. Once we were allowed to meet each other during quarantine, that’s when we started playing,” Hopkinson said. “We were playing every single day we could. This was the end goal. I’m glad that all our hard work paid off, and we’re finally here.”
“I think team chemistry has a lot to do with it. Me and Andy, we started our freshman year, and we were the only two to make the team,” Macdowall said. “Here we are junior year, and we’re doubles champions.”
Hopkinson and Macdowall defeated top-seeded Evan Remiszewski and Finn Street of Watertown in one semifinal, 6-3, 6-2. Calabrese and Longo beat 10th-seeded Nicholas Bshara and Brian O’Connell of Woodland in the other semifinal.
As a team, the No. 3 Hawks made a run to the NVL final where they fell to No. 1 Watertown, 3-2, May 21 at Wolcott High. Macdowall won at No. 3 singles, 2-6, 6-2, 11-9, and the duo of Kayo Niebrzydowski and Bshara won, 6-1, 6-3, in No. 1 doubles for Woodland.
“The kids played their hearts out,” McEvoy said. “And as a coach that’s really all you can ask of them. I’m proud of this team.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better outcome,” McEvoy added. “We are very excited that our doubles team won. They wanted it and went out and got it. Very proud of them and our entire team.”
In the singles tournament, Woodland’s Austin Roberts beat Damien Josephson of Kennedy in the second round, 8-5. Roberts fell to Aiden Moaddel of Watertown, 6-1, 7-5, in the quarterfinals.
Niebrzydowski defeated Cayman Chacchia of Holy Cross, 8-2, in the first round before falling, 8-6, to Miles Shoban of Wolcott in the second round. Tyler Cyr fell, 8-2, in the first round William Nguyen of Sacred Heart.
Naugatuck’s Aidan Lau beat Jacob Carlson of Torrington, 8-3, in the first round. Lau fell to Simon Kopecky of Holy Cross, 8-0, in the second round.
Alexander Felix lost, 8-1, to Anthony Marchetti of Wilby in the first round. William Zheng fell, 8-3, to Josephson in the first round.
In doubles, Naugatuck’s tandem of Fernando Moreno and Jay Barth won by forfeit and reached the quarterfinals, where they fell, 6-4, 6-3, to Calabrese-Longo. Julio Perez and Brian Barth lost to Hopkinson-Macdowall, 8-1, in the first round.
In the singles tournament, Woodland’s Audrey Fencil defeated Rosa Chavez of Kennedy, 8-4, in the first round. She fell to Michaela Bell of Holy Cross, 8-0, in the second round.
Jada Tramonro of Sacred Heart beat Woodland’s Samantha Erickson, 8-2, in the first round.
Naugatuck’s top singles players Kasia Deptula and Shravani Daptardar won first-round matches.
Deptula beat Romi Bagdassarian of St. Paul, 8-1. Daptardar defeated Kennedy’s Joleen Once, 8-0. Suzy Imetovski of Seymour beat Deptula, 8-0, in the second round. Daptardar fell, 9-7, to Ella Mancini of Holy Cross in the second round.
In doubles, Woodland’s Olivia Vallejo and Brooke Reilly defeated Wolcott’s Lexi Bartoli and Analise Pilarski, 8-2, in the second round before falling to St. Paul’s Lila Alderete and Callista Oria, 8-6, in the quarterfinals
Woodland’s Meghan Ruhl and Cori Patchkofsky fell, 8-6, in the second round to Holy Cross’ Jayme Erdtmann and Rachel Honegger.
Naugatuck’s tandems of Rebecca Carney and Tiffany Nguyen and Alena Rotatori and Diana Rebelo both made the quarterfinals.
Carney and Nguyen beat Ansonia’s Kiely Geoghan and Sabrina Ortega, 8-0, in the second round before falling, 8-3, to Jayme Erdtmann and Rachel Honegger of Holy Cross. Rotatori and Rebelo beat Ansonia’s Julia Wright and Addyson Izzo, 8-4, in the second round before losing to Watertown’s Emma Kite and Allison Stoto, 8-4.
The Republican-American contributed to this article.