As the valedictorian of his class at Lincoln Academy, Jordan Friedland takes a scientific approach to solving problems.
And not just in the classroom.
He has found the tennis court to be an ideal learning environment.
“It’s a game of trying to figure out everything on your own and being able to make split-second decisions, being able to adjust to conditions and individual players,” said Friedland. “When you go into a match you never really know what the other player is going to be like on any given day.”
Friedland, the two-time state singles champion, is a repeat winner of the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year for boys’ tennis.
A year ago he won the tournament as the fifth seed, grinding out three-set victories in both the semifinals and final. This spring, as the top seed, he breezed through the bracket without dropping more than three games in any set.
The 2012 title was a personal goal, he said. In 2013, “I was playing it more for fun,” he said, “and for my friends and family and coaches and people who supported me.”
The second time around, Friedland said he felt little of the pressure he put on himself to win a year earlier. He could relax, go for shots without fear of failure.
“I just sort of willed my way through the (2012) matches without being as loose as I was this year.”
His matches in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals presented different challenges. Outside in Lewiston against Waynflete sophomore Isaac Salas, gusty wind was an issue. “It was difficult to gauge the ball and get into the right position,” Friedland said.
Semifinal opponent Matt Gilman, a Cape Elizabeth senior, “is a fighter so I couldn’t let my guard down at all,” Friedland said, “because he would be right back in it.”
Friedland beat Salas 6-2, 6-2, then defeated Gilman by the same score at an indoor facility in Portland two days later. The final against Falmouth junior Brendan McCarthy was also played indoors because of rain.
“He’s got the huge lefty forehand and the lefty spin on the serve,” Friedland said, “so I had to sort of overcome that.”
He did, winning 6-3, 6-0 for another line on a resume that includes so much more. A peer tutor and volunteer at his local YMCA, Friedland has also given his time to the Damariscotta Fish Ladder Restoration Festival. He’s a National Merit Scholar finalist, placed second in the state on the National Spanish Exam, is leader of Lincoln Academy’s math team and is bound for Stanford.
“He’s a humble kid, just so unassuming,” said Sarah Wills-Viega, a guidance director at Lincoln Academy. “You would never know he’s accomplished what he’s accomplished.”
Lincoln Coach Michael Blake said Friedland has a “teaching spirit” evident by his willingness to help the team’s lesser-skilled players develop. When top-seeded Lincoln was edged 3-2 by No. 8 York in the Western Class B quarterfinals, it was Friedland who consoled Brandon Blake, the coach’s son, who lost at No. 2 singles.
“There wasn’t one bit of Jordan being upset that we weren’t going to go on,” Michael Blake said. “All he was concerned about was trying to make my son feel good about his loss. … That meant the world to me and to my son.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: