Woodland wins NVL team title, then captures singles and doubles crowns




For the two-time NVL runner-up Woodland, it was no surprise to be playing for the NVL championship. Their opponent on the other hand was a team that started out slow and continued to pick up momentum as the season progressed.

By the time the NVL title was up for grabs, Naugatuck was a team on a mission. The Hounds (13-6) went up against the undefeated Hawks (19-0) and came up on the short end of a 4-1 score on May 19 at Wilby High School in Waterbury.

Woodland defeated Holy Cross, 5-0, in the semifinals on May 17 to reach the title match. Kayo Niebrzydowski made quick work of his opponent, winning 6-0, 6-0. At No. 2 singles Nicholas Bshara won, 6-0, 6-1, and at No. 3 singles Brian O’Connell took a 6-3, 6-2 decision.

The No. 1 doubles team of Ken Arnold and Evan Lin swept past their opponents 6-2, 6-1, and at No. 2 doubles the duo of Cater Davis and Spencer Macdowall won handily, 6-1, 6-2.

“We knew what we had and although we never took anything for granted, we expected to be back here,” said Woodland coach Mike Magas. “These guys worked so hard and never let up all season long. They wanted this more than anything and it showed with how they played.”

Naugatuck was tested, beating Kennedy, 4-1, on May 16 in the quarterfinals. The Hounds upended Torrington, 3-2, in a tight semifinal on May 17. In the win over the Eagles, No. 1 singles player Aidan Lau battled to a 7-5, 3-6, 10-8 win and the No. 1 doubles team of Melih Yilmaz and Brandon Miranda rode to victory, 6-0, 6-4.

Torrington took the first singles match over Lau, 6-2, 6-2, to take the early lead. Brian Barth evened things up at No. 2 singles winning, 6-3, 6-1. The Hounds went into the doubles portion of the match with the advantage after No. 3 singles player William Zheng earned a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Yilmaz and Miranda went the distance and earned a 3-6, 6-4, 10-1 win. Manase Mutshima and Nathan Gaites fell short, 6-2, 7-5, but Naugy advanced to the final after the 3-2 win.

“I couldn’t be any more (proud),” said Naugy head coach Stephanie DeLuca. “We had a real slow start with injuries and then we were short one player and had to forfeit one of our doubles early on, but once we got Brian Barth back from injury and Nathan Gaites came on to fill in the last doubles spot we started to put things together and this team never once gave up. And to play for the championship after how we started says a lot about their heart and character.”

In the final, it was all Woodland except for the Greyhounds’ No. 1 doubles team of Yilmaz and Miranda upending Lin and Arnold, 6-2, 6-2. Carter and Macdowall, the Woodland No. 2 doubles team, came out victorious against Mutshima and Gaites, 6-1, 6-4.

The Hawks swept the singles play with Niebrzydowski defeating Lau, 6-0, 6-0; Bshara knocking off Barth, 6-1, 6-3; and O’Connell getting by Zheng, 6-1, 6-2.

In the individual tournament, Niebrzydowski won the singles championship over John Segnatelli of Holy Cross, 6-2, 6-2. In the doubles championship, the Hawks’ No. 2 and No. 3 singles players teamed up to play doubles, and Bshara and O’Connell won over Wolcott’s Charles Langlais and Justin Cardinale, 6-0, 6-0.