BY KEN MORSE
The Woodland boys tennis team headed into the final week of the NVL regular season sporting a 12-0 record and top ranking for the NVL team tournament, which begins May 16.
Woodland holds an edge over most of its competitors. The Hawks’ latest victory, 5-0 over Torrington on April 28, showed that in singles play. The doubles teams have been just as successful but rely on a more tenacious attitude to stay on the winning side of the ledger.
“We definitely have gained some confidence along the way being undefeated at this point in the season,” said Woodland head coach Mike Magas, “but I’m always reminding them, that on any given day, we can have a bad day and our opponent can be on their game, so we need to stay focused and take this one match at a time.”
Kayo Niebrzydowski (6-0, 6-2) took the No. 1 singles match to get things started against Torrington. Nick Bshara and Brian O’Connell each won by 6-2, 6-1 margins at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
At No. 1 doubles, Evan Lin and Ken Arnold escaped with a 7-6, (7-5), 6-2 victory. The No. 2 doubles pairing of Carter Davis and Spencer Macdowall outlasted their opponents, 6-2, 6-4.
“Both Torrington and Naugatuck have stepped up their games,” said Magas. “The last matches were a lot tighter than the final score would indicate. We need to continue to stay sharp and stay focused. We have a few tough ones left, especially with Wolcott.”
Naugatuck has been a team rising out of the ashes. Early on, the lack of depth had the Hounds struggling at 2-3 on the season. Naugy has improved to 7-3.
“Currently we are ranked No. 2 behind Woodland,” said coach Stephanie DeLuca. “Every point is a battle with our No. 1 singles player Aiden Lau. It’s a double-edged sword being the No. 1, but he has faced that challenge putting his heart into every match.”
The Greyhounds took a 5-0 decision over Crosby, led by No. 1 doubles team Melih Yilmaz and Brandon Miranda, who won, 6-4, 6-0. The No. 2 doubles team is made up of veteran Manase Mutshima and newcomer Nate Gaites.
Naugy made quick work of Kennedy, 4-1, on May 3. Lau won a nail-biter, 6-3, 6-4, to get it started for the Hounds. At. No. 2 singles, William Zheng pushed his opponent to the limit before falling short, 7-5, 2-6, 15-13. Brian Barth won a forfeit at No. 3 singles. The No. 1 doubles team of Miranda and Yilmaz lost a tough match, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5. At No. 2 doubles, Mutshima and Gaites earned a hard-fought win, 6-4, 6-4.
“Brian is back at 100% and William is showing more consistency, so we have a strong singles lineup,” said DeLuca. “Our No. 1 doubles Brandon and Melih only have one loss all season long and that was to Torrington.” DeLuca added: “We have a busy final two weeks before the NVL tournament and we are looking to finish strong.”
Naugatuck was scheduled for a rematch with Torrington on May 6.
The NVL boys team tennis tournament will be held at Wilby with quarterfinal matches on May 16, the semifinals on May 17, and championship on May 19.