Torrington boys tennis enjoying terrific season on the courts.
TORRINGTON: While Wolcott has been the dominant team in the Naugatuck Valley League boys tennis race this spring, Torrington has acquitted itself well and hopes to make a run in the NVL Tournament this week and get a third shot at the Eagles in the finals.
Wolcott was undefeated during the regular season, winning 15 matches and handing the Raiders their only two losses of the season against 13 victories. Torrington, the second seed, opened up the NVL Tournament at home Tuesday by beating Woodland, 9-0. THS was to face third seed Holy Cross Wednesday at home, a team it lost to in the tourney semifinals last year after posting a 12-3 regular season mark.
“I knew we had a good team coming into this year,” said head coach Mark Moulton, who has been on the sidelines the past seven seasons. “We did lose our top three singles players from last year, but the kids playing four, five and six were not getting beat, so I expected them to be able to step up for us this year. I could also see that my number four singles player from last year, Scott Dixon, had improved a lot, so he would be a capable number one. I just did not foresee that he'd be as dominant as he's been. His record was 10-5 during the regular season and he has held his own against any player in our league.” Dixon, a junior, should be a factor when the league holds its individual championship tournament next week.
The Raiders’ biggest win of the season thus far was in its first match against Holy Cross, which, as noted, knocked Torrington out of the NVL tournament last year. “It was a very close, 5-4, match, so we expected to meet again this year in the semifinals of the playoffs,” said Moulton.
When asked what his team’s strengths were, Moulton quickly said, “I have great kids. There's no drama or friction between the players. Some would like to play bigger roles I'm sure, but they're well behaved and respectful to one another. Another strength is our depth. You could have a team in boy’s tennis with just six kids if they were always there because in our league players can play both singles and doubles. But we have nine very capable players and the other three are very improved too. Because we've dominated most teams, we've been able to play everyone in most contests.”
Torrington’s usual lineup includes Dixon at one singles, Alain Malcolm at two, Billy Weber at three, Kevin Dixon at four, Ryan Nader at five, and Will Elmendorf, seeing a lot of action at various spots. Also factoring in have been Naseem Thompson, Sean Hartwell, and Luke Wassik, with Richard Zheng, Kyle White, and Richi Patai battling for playing time.
“We have a lot of depth and great kids on the team,” said Dixon as he took a break from warming up for the Woodland match on Tuesday. “Everybody shows up at practice and works hard. We all try to be the best we can.”
Said Malcolm, a senior, “We push one another and we all love to play tennis. I think going against one another in practice makes us better players when we get into matches.”
Offered Sean Hartwell, a senior, “Everybody gets along and we have a nice mix of classes, a few freshmen, a number of sophomores and a couple of seniors. We would like to play Wolcott in the finals and see if we could give them a match. The scores didn’t look like it, but the games were close against them when we played during the regular season.”
That Wolcott is again the favorite in the NVL is no surprise. The Eagles returned their entire team from a year ago. Torrington lost to the defending champs by lopsided scores, 9-0, and 8-1, this spring, but, as Hartwell noted, the games were hard fought and close for the most part.
“We're hoping to meet Wolcott in the finals and give them some competition, which they haven't had this season,” said Moulton. “In the individual tournament (players choose singles or doubles) Scott Dixon wants to get to the semifinals, at least.”
This is only the second year the NVL boys have determined their team champion with a tournament, something the girls have done for a number of years. In the past, the boys champ was determined by head to head match records. This year’s finals will be at Woodland High School Friday afternoon.