The progression seems so simple.
Semifinals as a freshman.
Final as a sophomore.
State champion as a junior.
Brandon Thompson of Waynflete took that path, but his journey had obstacles.
Mt. Ararat graduate Mike Hill, now at Brown, eliminated Thompson from the state singles tournament in 2008 and 2009. With Hill out of the way, the title appeared Thompson’s to lose.
“There was a lot more expectations,” Thompson said. “This year I was more of a favorite. It was different pressure.”
Toss in a shoulder injury that kept Thompson out from November through April, and the addition of talented teammate Patrick Ordway and suddenly Thompson looked vulnerable.
Waynflete Coach Jeff Madore didn’t even require a challenge match to set the team ladder, because with Thompson’s shoulder still tender, the last thing Madore wanted was for his two best players to beat up on each other.
Thompson and Ordway finally met on the last day of May, after Ordway beat another teammate, Devin Van Dyke, in a semifinal. Thompson beat Bob Tom Flynn of John Bapst in the other semi, 6-2, 6-0.
In the final, Thompson turned back Ordway, 6-3, 6-2.
For doing so, Thompson is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram MVP for boys’ tennis.
“That was closer than it seemed,” Thompson said of the final. “We both had great points. He made it farther than I did freshman year.”
The singles title decided, Thompson, Ordway and Van Dyke joined to lead Waynflete to its third consecutive Class C title, capping a 15-0 season with a 5-0 victory over previously unbeaten George Stevens Academy. Waynflete’s second straight unbeaten season included wins over traditional Class B powers Falmouth, York and state champion Cape Elizabeth.
That Thompson ever found tennis is something of a surprise. His mom hails from Hong Kong and his father from California. Neither has much of a background in the sport.
Brandon gave tennis a whirl at age 8 or 9, after the family moved here from southern California. He tried a few clinics, took a few lessons and at age 12 connected with Bates College Coach Paul Gastonguay.
“He’s kind of a late starter to tennis,” Gastonguay said. “But Brandon is a gifted athlete to begin with, so he was able to catch on quickly. We spent a lot of time on fundamentals and he’s an incredibly hard worker.”
Reserved and polite, Thompson soon learned the New England junior tennis circuit isn’t always filled with players who share such attributes.
“He’s very humble, very unassuming,” Gastonguay said. “He’s one of the best kids you’ll ever meet. But as a competitor, that hurt him for a while, because when he’s playing against an opponent who’s maybe a little more willing to be aggressive or push him around, I mean, in terms of the mind games some kids out there on the junior circuit are brutal. It took Brandon a while to learn he could have an alter ego on the court. He could be a tenacious competitor and still be a nice kid.”
A left-hander with two strong serves and an impressive all-around game, Thompson is as comfortable at net as behind the baseline. He grew 3 inches between his sophomore and junior seasons, and now stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 155 pounds. He played basketball for Waynflete as a freshman and plans to do so again this winter.
He’s also an honor student who thinks neuroscience might be an interesting college major, although “that could change.”
“He’s a good all-court player who has an answer for every type of opponent,” Gastonguay said. “He can play with anyone.”
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: