Woodland takes strides

Woodland’s Richie Weishner returns a shot during a match against Kennedy’s Joni Pasholli Monday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 9-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — In the last two weeks, Woodland boys tennis coach Mike Magas has seen his Hawks take vast strides in the right direction.

“I’ve seen quite a bit (of improvement),” Magas said. “They’re understanding how to play to their strengths and learning how to read their opponents to see if they can find any weaknesses to take advantage of. Additionally, they’re working hard in practice to improve on their own weaknesses. They want to get better, which is refreshing.”

That work has begun to pay off for Woodland (8-6), which won five of its last seven matches to end the regular season. Those two losses, though, were in tight 5-4 matches against two of the league’s top contenders, Torrington and Holy Cross.

In a 9-0 sweep of Kennedy on Monday, all six singles players — Josh Powanda, Nick Hudson, Richie Weishner, Dante Polletta, Devon Polletta, and Austin Roberts — claimed 8-0 victories in their matches. The doubles squads of Powanda and Jeff Varesio, Tim Mendes and Gabe Sousa, and Sebastian Wojcik and Vinny Zheng also cruised to wins.

Magas was particularly impressed with the consistency he saw out of his players against a young opponent.

“One thing I’m focusing on with my team is to play 100 percent, regardless of who the opponent is,” Magas said. “Kennedy is a young team that has improved tremendously this year but is about a year away from competing for a league title. Nevertheless, I told our guys to play hard from the first point to the last, and they did that.”

Woodland’s Dante Polletta returns during a match against Kennedy’s Anthony Rybezyk Monday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 9-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Hawks ended the regular season with an 8-1 win over Watertown on Wednesday.

Powanda, Hudson, Dante Polletta, Devon Polletta, and Roberts earned singles wins. The teams of Wojcik and Powanda, Mendes and Varesio, and Zheng and Sousa swept the doubles matches.

Woodland will now set its sights on the Naugatuck Valley League tournaments. The quarterfinals start on Monday. The semifinals are next Wednesday with the final set for next Friday at Woodland, followed by the singles and doubles tournaments the following week.

“Although Wolcott, Torrington and Holy Cross are the favorites, a few of the next-level teams such as Naugy, us, and Watertown may have a shot if we play above our heads,” Magas said. “The week after next will be the individual tourney, and it should be interesting as everyone will be looking to knock off some of the top players from Wolcott. They have been at the top the last few years.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article that appears in the May 11 print edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on matches played after press time through May 9.