Youth, potential fill roster for ‘Hounds

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Naugatuck girls top singles players, from left, freshman Sarah Cook and juniors Martina Niebryzdowski, Kayla Rotatori, Kayla Gallant, Mikaela Santo and Hannah Kim will lead the Greyhounds. –KEN MORSE
Naugatuck girls top singles players, from left, freshman Sarah Cook and juniors Martina Niebryzdowski, Kayla Rotatori, Kayla Gallant, Mikaela Santo and Hannah Kim will lead the Greyhounds. –KEN MORSE

NAUGATUCK — Winning is drawing interest for the Naugatuck girls tennis team.

After a 14-4 finish to the last Naugatuck Valley League season, the Greyhounds lost six seniors from last year. Those losses have become opportunities for the 28 girls who have come out to play for the 2013 season.

Miranda Jang, Katelin Carter, Katie Bottinick, Andrea Jimenez, Alexa Ramos, and Lani Chucta were all key players for Naugatuck the last two years. Jose Sendra begins his third season as Naugy’s head coach with a young roster that has no seniors, but plenty of potential.

“I’m conservative in my expectations,” said Sendra, who noted that the team features many new players new to tennis.

Hannah Kim, a junior, will take the role as the team’s No. 1 seed. Kim, who played doubles last year, took private lessons in the offseason and is primed for the team’s top singles spot.

“Hannah has good technique,” Sendra said. “She strikes the ball well. This is a big step up for her.”

Another player to watch is junior Kayla Gallant, who uses fundamentals to frustrate her opponents.

“I tell the players to not make the mistakes, let your opponent do that,” Sendra said. “Kayla has a nice topspin and has really developed into a good player.”

Mikeala Santo, also a junior, will be the team’s No. 3 singles seed. She will be joined by classmates Kayla Rotatori and Martina Niebryzdowski, who are expected to be big contributors.

Sendra said Niebryzdowski has made a steady progression in her first two years. He recalled a match during her freshman season when he inserted her into the lineup and she picked up a key win that day.

“Martina won a match that won us a meet in her first year,” Sendra said. “Like a lot of our players, she’s level-headed, they’re good students and they don’t get too emotional on the court.”

Among the newcomers, freshman Sarah Cook will be a player to watch. Cook has been a standout at practice and Sendra expects she will be in the lineup on opening day.

Naugy went 11-7 in the NVL during the 2011 season and made further strides last year. Sendra didn’t make any bold predictions about the season, but said he still expects the team to continue to be competitive.

Naugy opened the season Wednesday at Wolcott. Results of the match were not available as of this post. The Greyhounds will play Thursday at Holy Cross and head back on the road to Torrington on Saturday for an 11 a.m. start.