AUBURN — St. Dominic Academy senior Alec Beaudin waited patiently for his high school season to begin.
He’s the lone member of the boys tennis team this season, so instead of playing in team matches he had to wait on the sidelines, practicing with the girls team until the regional qualifier for the state singles tournament on May 8.
“It was a little unexpected to being the only member of the boys team, but we are trying to make the most of the situation,” Beaudin said. “Like with anything the past year with the pandemic, we are trying to make the most with all situations.”
Tennis is Beaudin’s No. 1 sport, so he was still competing this spring, but not just under the Maine Principals’ Association’s umbrella. Instead, he participated in United States Tennis Association and Universal Tennis Rating matches, which range from other high school players to college players or adults that play recreationally.
St. Dom’s coach Andrew Girouard had a game plan for Beaudin with only the regional qualifier and the state singles tournament to worry about.
“Before the season started, Alec and I just kept talking back and forth, figuring what we were going to do,” Girouard said. “This was kind of our joint brainchild in the sense that we would work together with the girls (team) and then we would play — either he or I, or (former St. Dom’s player) Robbie Kurtz has come back and he is coming to play (against Beaudin) or gentlemen that I play on the weekends came to play.”
Girouard wanted to make sure Beaudin had different opponents with different styles of play to get ready for the qualifier. Girouard said the practice that Beaudin received this spring has been a good learning experience for Beaudin, as he won some of those practice matches, but he also lost some.
Beaudin has been an assistant coach of sorts to Girouard, helping out the girls team with drills.
While he has been able to get some matches this spring in USTA and UTR tournaments, Beaudin misses being a part of a team.
“I will be honest, there’s nothing like high school tennis, the camaraderie of a team, putting the uniform back on (for the regional qualifier), and playing a high school match,” Beaudin said. “(I did) miss it, but you have to make the best of the situation.”
GETTING A BYE IN THE QUALIFIER
The regional qualifier involved 20 players around Androscoggin and Franklin counties, with the top 12 players in the region receiving a first-round bye in the two-round qualifier.
Girouard pushed for Beaudin to be one of those 12 players, despite not playing an MPA-sanctioned match this spring.
“A lot of our regional coaches have seen him play, whether it was his freshman year or sophomore year, and they know of Alec, seeing his scores, seeing him play or hearing about him, or just us talking in general about our teams,” Girouard said. “They felt as well as I did that he should be ranked within the region.”
Beaudin did make the regional qualifier two years ago, and that’s where he made an impression on Zac Conlogue, the Mt. Blue coach.
“One of my kids played against him in the singles tournament two years ago. I was pretty familiar with him then,” Conlogue said. “He gave (Zack Gunther) a really good match (in the first round) and I was asking Andrew (about him) and (Andrew) said he has improved a lot. I saw him kind of hitting with Andrew one day and said ‘Oh, wow, he has really improved his game.’”
Conlogue said he wants to reward players who have been putting in the time to get better.
Beaudin’s make-or-break match if he was going to qualify for the state singles tournament and for his high school career to continue came against Carson Zunde of Mt. Blue.
Beaudin was feeling every different emotion heading into the match.
“There’s always going to be nerves and butterflies going into the match,” Beaudin said. “To be honest, it was more anxious to get out there and play. I have been playing since I was four or five, so I love the sport.”
Beaudin breezed past Zunde, winning 6-1 in straight sets.
With the win, Beaudin qualified for the state singles tournament at Lewiston High School this weekend.