Growing up with an older sister who became a three-time singles state champion in tennis, Patrick Ordway had plenty of opportunity to hone his strokes and footwork.
“We were always playing together,” said Ordway, an incoming junior at Portland’s Waynflete School, of Christine Ordway, a 2009 graduate who now plays No. 1 for Cornell University. “We trained together. Both of us wanted to get each other better, so it really helped.”
The biggest lesson Patrick learned may have come not between the lines, but between his ears. When things look bleak, don’t let discouraging thoughts make matters worse.
“She helped me focus on the court, focus on the match,” he said. “Don’t get too down on myself. I owe that to her.”
As it happened, Christine was home from college for the first weekend in June and had the chance to see Patrick put that attitude into action.
After dropping the opening set in the Maine Principals’ Association boys’ tennis singles championship to Falmouth freshman Justin Brogan, Ordway rallied to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory at Bates College in Lewiston.
For doing so, Ordway is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram MVP for boys’ tennis.
At 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds, Ordway cuts an imposing figure on the tennis court. His serve can be overpowering and there aren’t many balls he can’t reach.
As a freshman last spring, he reached the finals of the singles tournament before losing to teammate Brandon Thompson.
This year, Thompson elected to run track. Ordway took over Waynflete’s No. 1 singles spot and promptly dropped his season-opening match to sophomore Matt Gilman on a raw April afternoon in Cape Elizabeth, 7-5, 6-0.
“It was really a tough start,” Ordway said. “I kind of had some doubts about myself. But you just have to fight through the bad times.”
Ordway didn’t lose again the rest of the season, including a perfect run through the Class C team tournament that resulted in another state crown for a Waynflete team that had to replace five graduates in addition to Thompson. The only returning starters were Patrick and Eric Ordway, who is two years older.
Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Patrick Ordway had another tough match with Gilman, this one shortened to a single eight-game pro set because of an approaching storm. Trailing 4-7, Ordway rallied to a 9-8 victory requiring a tiebreaker.
Then there were two close matches with Brogan, the first lasting three sets in Falmouth and the second in straight sets at Waynflete. In the tournament, Ordway played his best tennis in a 6-0, 6-2 semifinal victory over Gilman before having to reach down deep against Brogan.
“He has an amazing ability to just let the ball fly at key times,” said Waynflete Coach Jeff Madore, who also coached Christine. “I’d be bunting it back, but he’s just going to give it a ride. No fear.
“It’s that ‘go big or go home’ mentality that I certainly don’t teach him.”
One question remains. Now that the protege is taller and stronger, can he beat his older sister?
“I like to think I can beat her,” Patrick said with a laugh. “But we haven’t played an official match.”
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: