June 27, 2010

Boys' Tennis MVP: Reaching the top, and doing it one step at a time

Brandon Thompson won the state title as a junior while playing for a talented Waynflete team.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The progression seems so simple.

click image to enlarge

Brandon Thompson of Waynflete discovered this year how it felt to be the player to beat and handled the pressure well, winning the individual boys' state championship.

2010 Telegram File

BOYS' ALL-STATE TENNIS

Tyler Adams, Bonny Eagle sophomore

Led a turnaround from 4-8 team record to 8-4 and a berth in the Western Class A tournament. Seeded fourth in the singles tournament, reached the quarterfinals before dropping a three-set match to Bob Tom Flynn of John Bapst.

Bob Tom Flynn, John Bapst junior

Led fourth-seeded Bapst to the Eastern Class B final before falling 3-2 to Camden Hills. Seeded fifth in the singles tournament, knocked off No. 4 Tyler Adams of Bonny Eagle to join the Waynflete trio in the semifinals, losing 6-2, 6-0 to Brandon Thompson, the champion.

Jordan Friedland, Lincoln Academy freshman

Helped lead the Eagles to an 11-1 regular-season record and second seed in Western Class B tournament before losing 3-2 to No. 6 York in the semifinals. Seeded sixth in the singles tournament, reached the quarterfinals before losing to No. 3 Devin Van Dyke of Waynflete.

Matt Gilman, Cape Elizabeth freshman

Rose to the top singles spot for the Capers, who blitzed through the Class B tournament without dropping an individual match. In the singles tourney, Gilman upset the eighth and ninth seeds before falling 6-0, 6-4 to No. 1 Brandon Thompson of Waynflete.

Patrick Ordway, Waynflete freshman

Unbeaten at No. 2 singles for the Class C state champion Flyers. Seeded second in the singles tournament, Ordway defeated teammate Devin Van Dyke in the semis before falling to yet another teammate, Brandon Thompson, in the final.

Brandon Thompson, Waynflete junior

Led the Flyers to a third straight Class C state title. The top seed in the singles tourney lived up to billing, never dropping a set on the way to a 6-3, 6-2 title victory over teammate Patrick Ordway. Reached the singles final as a sophomore and semifinals as a freshman.

Devin Van Dyke, Waynflete senior

Unbeaten at No. 3 singles for the Flyers, who cruised to a third consecutive Class C state title. Seeded third in the singles tournament behind teammates Brandon Thompson and Patrick Ordway, reaching the semifinals before falling 6-1, 7-5 to Ordway.

Toni Weber, Mountain Valley senior

An exchange student from Germany who led the Falcons to an 11-1 record and fourth seed in Western Class B before falling to Cape Elizabeth, the eventual state champion. As the seventh seed in the singles tournament, he reached the quarterfinals.

Coach of the Year: Jeff Madore, Waynflete

Our 2006 selection as girls' tennis coach of the year, Madore has made the successful transition to the Waynflete boys' team, which emerged unbeaten through a season that included two victories against the Class B state champion, Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete also placed three players in the semifinals of the singles tournament.

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:

gjordan@pressherald.com

 

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