Woodland returns battle-tested lineup

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Woodland boys tennis captains Josh Powanda, left, and Nick Hudson will lead the Hawks this year. –KYLE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — With 10 underclassmen and one senior last spring, the Woodland boys tennis squad was a pleasant surprise with a 7-8 record and an All-NVL singles player.

With nearly the entire team returning this season, the Hawks are looking for even more.

“If we could go to states as a team, that’d be nice,” said Woodland junior Nick Hudson, the No. 2 singles player. “We only lost one senior, so all of our main players are back. We should be good.”

Hudson and No. 1 singles player Josh Powanda should give Woodland a strong one-two punch at the top of the singles lineup. Powanda upset his way to the NVL semifinals last spring, becoming the second sophomore in program history to earn all-league honors.

Powanda and Hudson both boast good size at well over 6 feet. Work so far this preseason has focused on developing themselves into better all-around players.

“We’re using a lot of the drills, like hitting down the lines and placing it,” Powanda said. “We’re using what we’ve been taught.”

“It’s about working on little things now,” Hudson added. “You have the dynamics once you’re one of the top players. It’s working on the small things to get better.”

Mike Magas takes over as head coach after Charlie Ostrander stepped down to welcome a new child to his family. Magas is a former boys and girls tennis coach at Woodland and knows he has a special tandem at the top of his singles lineup.

“They bring strength,” Magas said. “We’re working on some power shots, and it helps them if they want to attack the nets. They can get to shots that some guys can’t get to with their size.”

Magas’ job has involved evaluating the entire squad to craft a lineup. He benefits from the experience of a team that has almost all of last year’s roster back in 2018.

“I talked to Charlie Ostrander prior to the season starting, just getting a feel of where guys played and what he thought of them,” Magas said. “Just being out here the first two weeks, I see their strengths and weaknesses and who will be playing where to start the season. I’ve coached here in the past when we had players with very little, if any, varsity experience. These guys all have some. To be in game position from previous years, it’ll bring them confidence.”

Magas expects Richie Weishner, Dante Polletta, Devin Polletta and Jeff Varesio to round out the singles lineup with Sebastian Wojcik and Austin Roberts also competing for singles time.

Woodland was scheduled to open the season Monday at Wilby, but a snowstorm postponed the match to a date to be determined. The Hawks are scheduled to host Naugatuck on Wednesday and visit perennial NVL powerhouse Wolcott April 6.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a scheduling change due to inclement weather.