One reason for the success of the Windham tennis program in recent years — the boys entered the week 8-0 and the girls 7-1 — is that Wayne Martin recruits athletes and turns them into tennis players.
“You get cut from a sport, come see me,” said Martin, who coaches both squads. “I’ll take you.”
Senior Brad Carpentier is a football player whose spring sports included baseball for two years and track for one before he gave tennis a whirl. Martin installed him at first doubles with classmate Avery Topel and they cruised through the first two-thirds of the season without a loss.
“He’s got a competitive mind-set and it really rubs off on the rest of the kids,” Martin said. “He knows how to compete.”
Similarly, junior Jarron Nadeau made the transition from baseball diamond to second doubles and has not lost with sophomore Nick McGoldrick as his partner. Nadeau’s older brother, Tyler, played for Martin, as does sister Maelah, a freshman.
But the most unusual recruit on this year’s squad came not from baseball, football or track but from pickleball.
Yes, pickleball, an amalgam of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Windham holds a school-wide tournament every year between winter and spring athletic seasons and Martin and Eagles football coach Matt Perkins are the five-time defending champions.
Their opponents in the final this season: Carpentier and an exchange student from Italy, Jacopo Secchi.
“I said, ‘This kid’s not bad,”‘ said Martin, who learned Secchi had played some tennis and was pleased to see him, a few days later, show up for the initial team meeting.
Instead of fighting for a doubles spot, Secchi rose to No. 2 on the singles ladder and has split challenge matches with sophomore Jordan Crowley for No. 1. Rain interrupted a 10-game super pro set last week with Secchi leading 7-4.
“So he may take over the No. 1 spot,” Martin said.
Secchi — his teammates call him Ato — is not seeded in Tuesday’s Region 5 singles qualifying tournament, but may advance to the Round of 48 if he can get past No. 11 Andrew Lamonica, who plays No. 1 for York.
Windham, Kennebunk and Gorham entered the week with unbeaten records among SMAA boys teams, and the Eagles face both Rams squads this week.
Windham’s girls jumped to a 7-1 record this week, with Scarborough the only loss. The Eagles have squeaked by Deering and McAuley by 3-2 scores.
“Our lock point has been second doubles,” said Martin, referring to the tandem of Maelah Nadeau and junior Bailey Pelletier. “I don’t think they’ve dropped a set.”
Sophomore Julia Richardson leads the singles lineup and has lost only to McAuley’s Devri Ramsey.
“Julia is pretty solid,” Martin said. “She’s a returner. She just gets to everything.”
In last week’s 3-2 victory over McAuley, the critical point came from senior Jillian Levesque at No. 3 singles. She rallied to a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.
WHILE WINDHAM entered the week with a combined 15-1 record between boys and girls, Brunswick was perfect 14-0 with a girls squad that had yet to lose a set.
One reason for that is the improvement of junior Leah Soloway, who jumped from second doubles last spring to third singles.
“She has become a very consistent, mentally tough player for us at that critical number three singles spot,” said Brunswick Coach Rob Manter.
Classmates Maisie Silverman and Alik Stankiewicz round out a potent singles lineup, but it was two doubles victories that gave the Dragons a 3-2 victory over McAuley in the Class A state finals last spring.
The rise of freshman Elizabeth Day on the doubles ladder gives Manter hope for solidifying that area of the team.
Day “is a very good athlete and is now, with the experience of practices, beginning to understand doubles,” Manter said. “She may be an important part of the mix.”
KENNEBUNK SENIOR Josh Behrens entered the week with a three-year unbeaten streak in team play. At No. 3 singles as a sophomore, No. 2 as a junior and No. 1 as a senior, Behrens took a 37-match winning streak into Monday’s match against Windham.
THE SMAA and WMC doubles tournaments will be held Saturday. There was some talk of delaying the singles qualifying until the weekend instead of Tuesday, and Portland High Coach Bonnie Moran is glad nothing came of it.
“There’s too many kids who play doubles,” she said.
Last year’s SMAA girls final was an all-Portland affair, between Moran’s second and third teams. Her top team lost in the quarters.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: