Newtown High School’s boys’ tennis team, with wins over Joel Barlow of Redding and Masuk of Monroe this past week, improved to 10-2 overall, heading into the final three matches of the campaign as the Nighthawks gear up for a run at the South-West Conference championship match.
“If everything goes according to form, we should get to the finals,” said Newtown Coach Marty Margulies, acknowledging that it would likely mean a rematch with rival Weston, the only team to hand Newtown its defeats this spring — one in a nonconference match, and the other in a battle that counted toward the SWC standings.
Of course, whether or not everything goes according to form remains to be seen, and Margulies isn’t about to count the chickens before they hatch. Five years ago favored Pomperaug of Southbury expected to beat Newtown in the SWC tourney semifinals.
“A funny thing happened on the way to the finals — us,” said Margulies, alluding to his team’s upset win. “They learned a lesson and we learned one.”
The lesson: Don’t take any team for granted.
Newtown was scheduled to face Pomperaug on May 9, will play nonconference foe St Joseph of Trumbull on May 13 and SWC opponent Barlow at home May 14 to close of the regular slate in preparation for the conference tourney, set to get under way on May 16.
The Hawks clinched a postseason berth this past week, and hopes are high for a strong run in the playoffs.
Margulies knew what kind of talent he had coming back from a year ago, but has been pleasantly surprised by the quick emergence of newcomers, as well as the over-the-winter development of underclassmen.
“We have more depth than I had anticipated. A couple of last year’s freshmen have come along very nicely and played very well in the doubles, and we have three very promising freshmen this year,” Margulies said.
Matt Carino, who has a spot in the doubles rotation, along with top substitutes James Frazzetta and Peter Winans, both of whom have played in several of the team’s matches, are all first-year high schoolers.
Junior Nic Klein improved during the offseason and earned a spot at the top of the doubles ladder. Klein and Keaton McCleary, a sophomore returnee, have combined to played at first doubles. Other strong sophomores are Mike Dutsar and Kunal Marwah
Senior Cam McCleary heads the singles grouping, and is followed by fellow returnees Tyler Ruefenacht, Sean Elliott, Ricky Fuentes, and Yossi Kohrman-Glaser.
Margulies said the highlight of the Barlow match, a 5-2 Newtown win, was Elliott’s and Klein’s gritty come-from-behind win at first doubles over what he referred to as a very strong and technically proficient Barlow side comprising Grayson Kramer and Steve Dreznick, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5. “The win was the more impressive for the fact that the two were paired together for the first time,” Margulies said.