WATERBURY — When the time came to decide a Naugatuck Valley League boys tennis champion, the Greyhounds did what they’ve been doing all season long — they went out and took care of business.
No. 1 Naugatuck defeated No. 3 Torrington, 3-2, Saturday at Wilby High School in the boys tournament final to claim the Greyhounds’ first NVL tournament championship since it started in 2015.
“From day one we said we were going to show up, work hard and good things will happen, and they did,” Naugatuck head coach Brett Hayward said.
After falling in the semifinals the last three seasons, the Greyhounds (17-2) faced off against the only NVL team that dealt them a defeat during the regular season in Torrington (14-6), which has been to three straight finals. When it came for the match to decide the NVL title, Torrington couldn’t beat the Greyhounds again, as Naugy earned a 3-2 win that was less dramatic than the final score indicates.
Naugatuck’s No. 2 doubles team of Jon Vincent and DJ Fine got the Greyhounds on the board first with a convincing 6-3, 6-0 win over Torrington’s Jackson Keller and Matthew Carr.
Vincent, the senior with experience having played in these situations over the past three years, knew what had to be done. His partner on the court, the young sophomore, performed just fine, drilling shot after shot that somehow found the back corners of the court.
“We have definitely come a long way as a group,” Vincent said. “DJ and I work well together. We finally got over that semifinal hump of the last few years, and here we are.”
The next Greyhound to walk off the court smiling was Jay Mezzo, who won his No. 3 singles match versus Torrington’s Dave Teti, 6-3, 6-2. Teti defeated Mezzo twice during the regular season, and Mezzo responded by changing his game plan and attacking the net at every opportunity.
“I came out and took a little bit of a different strategy, and it worked for me,” Mezzo said. “I knew we had the players and I knew we had the heart to get here. Coach Hayward is a very good coach and brought the best out in us.”
The Greyhounds needed just one more match win to claim the title, and Jared Montini closed the deal with a straight set (6-2, 6-3) victory in the No. 2 singles match with Torrington’s Brett Stater.
Montini’s teammates mobbed him as he walked off the courts following his title-clinching match.
“It’s a great feeling,” Montini said. “I lost to him last time, so to beat him and secure the match in the process is just an unbelievable feeling.”
Torrington won the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles matches, both in tiebreakers. Kevin Dixon defeated Chris Cook (3-6, 6-1, 10-6) in singles, and the duo of Brandan Cisowski and Joshua Hosein beat Brandon Sampaio and Andres Maldonado (6-4, 7-6, 7-2). But by then Naugatuck had already taken care of business.
“It was all them, they put in the work to get here and I’m proud of them,” Hayward said. “We knew we were going to be competitive this year, and it all came together. It’s a great feeling to have accomplished what we did this year.”