Entering this week, the boys’ tennis team at Glastonbury High School ranks second overall in Class LL having won 11 of 12 meets this spring.
“This year was new in terms of getting to know the guys. We pretty much got a brand-new team,” said head coach Chris Vozzolo, who is coaching the Guardians with assistant Scott Daniels, “But credit to the guys. We got a fresh start and we’ve had great leadership, so it’s reinvigorated our program a little bit.”
The coaches have a gifted group, blended with youth and experience.
Sophomore Christian Kaverud is handling the #1 singles duties, showcasing a poise that is rare for an underclassman in a prominent position.
“So far it’s been good, the transition has been great,” said Kaverud, who won his first four high school matches, “I’ve been playing since I was three years old and have a lot of experience with tournaments and competitions, so I knew I would have a good shot at playing #1. I was looking forward to the team environment and now that I am a part of it, it’s been great.”
Playing against the state’s top players, Kaverud has more than held his own by winning 9 of 11 matches.
“Christian has had a great tennis experience. He’s worked under some great coaches, so he came in his sophomore year well prepared,” stated Vozzolo, “Also his teammates have been awesome with him, they support him. We have guys here that can give him battles every day at practice.”
Kaverud is following in the footsteps of his sister Ava Kaverud, who was a key contributor on the girls’ tennis team at GHS that won a state title in 2017 and finished with the 2018 regular season undefeated. He credits his older sister and father, Jayson Kaverud, for teaching him the ropes.
He is also grateful for the guidance he’s received from the team’s four seniors; Luke Vredenburg, Dhanush Kalangi, Liam Kelleher, and Matt Guasta.
“They’ve been great, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates,” Kaverud said of the seniors, recalling a match from early in the season, “I was playing a match down 1-5 and Luke said, ‘you have to play one point at a time’. It allowed me to calm down and breath, and I was able to come back and win that set 7-5.”
Vredenburg, the #2 singles player, is just happy to be playing competitive sports again, “I was pretty excited. This being the first time I was able to play on the high school [tennis] team, I didn’t really know what to expect. It really has defied all expectations. We’re solid all the way throughout and it’s been fun trying to teach he younger kids, while also competing.”
Kalangi is serving as the #3 singles player, while Kelleher and Guasta have teamed up to form an unbeatable #1 doubles tandem.
“We didn’t know a lot of kids coming in but we did some preseason get-togethers to meet some of the kids that were trying out for the team and we could tell from then that we’d have a pretty good year,” said Kelleher, who has been playing since his freshman year, ”We’re just happy to be here and playing. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Guasta is playing competitively for the first time, “I played tennis with Liam growing up all the time over the summer. I thought it would be fun to join the team. I’m really glad that I did, it’s been fun getting to know the guys and getting better every day.”
Kelleher said that Guasta has picked up the sport quickly, adding that the two have great chemistry from their time playing soccer together.
Guasta added, “Liam definitely helped me out and at first I looked to him to handle a lot of the tough balls and he took control. As it’s gone on, I’ve picked up what I’m supposed to be doing and I think we’ve gotten better each day,”
“I had no doubt they were going to be able to mesh very quickly. We put chemistry guys at that position because we know it’s important. We know how valuable being able to work with a partner is in doubles. It’s not easy,” Vozzolo said of his #1 double pairing, “They play great competition and those leadership qualities come out during those tough spots in matches.”
Vozzolo added that all four seniors have been invaluable, helping transition the team back to competitive tennis after a season lost in 2020.
“These four guys are unbelievable. They all do things a little bit differently but together they are unbelievable leaders. Luke and Matt, being first-year guys, have just mixed in with the rest of the guys and helped. Liam and Dhanush have that big match experience. They’ve been to the Opens and States before so they know what’s coming down the road for us. I’m hoping they will be the guys to help the kids understand how the postseason is going to pan out.”
The Guardian won their first ten matches this spring before dropping one to undefeated Avon (3-4) last Wednesday. They quickly rebounded with a resounding sweep over New Britain on Friday, improving to 11-1.
Kaverud (6-0, 6-0), Vredenburg (6-0, 6-0), Josh Souder (6-1, 6-1), and Nate Azimov (6-1, 6-0) picked up singles wins. Matt Daniels/Niteesh Kalangi (6-0, 6-0), Brendon Wagner/Justin Nascimento (6-0, 6-0), and Arthur Cao/Nick Bonaiuto (6-0, 6-0) won doubles matches.
Vredenburg, who has won every match this season, believes the team can make a run if they keep working towards a common goal, “We knew after tryouts that we were going to be a good team. We just have to keep our heads on straight and take it one match at a time.”
The Class LL tournament will start at the end of this month and Vozzolo likes how his team is shaping up heading into the postseason, “These guys have done an amazing job at buying into the team aspect. They help each other out on the court, and they help each other out off the court. We are super well rounded, not only by our abilities but also by grade level. We have all four levels competing. We feel like we are mentally and physically prepared.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin