Thorne Kieffer plays No. 1 singles for a Waynflete boys’ tennis team shooting for its 12th consecutive Class C state title. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Three years ago, Waynflete boys’ tennis coach Jeff Madore reached out to a freshman soccer player and encouraged him to attend an informational meeting for tennis. Madore remembered Thorne Kieffer as a rising junior playing tennis with another local prodigy, Nick Forester of Falmouth.

At first, Kieffer resisted. He hadn’t touched a racket in three years, feeling burned out by tennis before reaching middle school. But Madore’s recruitment continued and with some maternal encouragement, Kieffer decided to give it another go. He’s glad he did.

On Thursday, Kieffer will play No. 1 singles for a Waynflete team attempting to win the Class C South title. The Flyers are shooting for an unprecedented 12th consecutive Class C state championship.

Q: When did you start playing tennis?

A: I was 5 or 6 years old. My dad got a job internationally and we moved to China for three years. I started playing there with a coach when I was 6, actually intensely. Like, training a lot.

Q: How long did you keep it up?

A: I played for 2 1/2, three years while we were there and then came back (to Maine) and was really into it. At age 11 or 12, I burned out completely and lost my love for the sport.

Q: Why the burnout?

A: It was a combination of the same thing over and over, and I had some coaches who didn’t hit the spot right. I was in the high school group and I was a little kid, and it was a little too intense. I hated it. I had bad memories from matches and stuff.

Q: So you turned your attention elsewhere?

A: I placed soccer for four years with the same intensity that I had played tennis. (Practice) three times a week. Every weekend I was driving across New England playing. Then I decided to give that up for tennis because I started playing again and fell in love with it.

Q: Any regrets from stepping away for so long?

A: I have a renewed love for the sport, so that’s really a nice thing. Unlike before, when I would dread it. Now I want to play in college.

Q: Did you continue with soccer?

A: I was a four-year varsity player and we won states last (fall). I was a captain. I got injured but made it back and played in the last game (a 3-1 victory over Fort Kent to win the Gold Ball).

Q: You played doubles for Waynflete as a freshman and No. 2 singles as a sophomore. How have you progressed in the state singles tournament?

A: Sophomore year I lost to Nick (Forester) in the first round. Last year I made it to the quarterfinals and this year the semis. So every year I improved.

Q: Waynflete had six matches decided by 3-2 scores this season and lost to Western Maine conference rivals Freeport, Yarmouth and Greely. How does that prepare you for the playoffs?

A: We’ve had some tight matches. I think we’re ready to win Class C because we get that hard schedule (against Class B opponents). Hopefully nobody (in Class C) is at that level.

Q: What kind of pressure is involved in keeping alive Waynflete’s championship streak?

A: Obviously, as we get closer and closer to the state championship, everyone gets kind of tight and nervous because you don’t want to be the team that breaks it. I get texts from Isaac Salas (a 2015 Waynflete graduate) and (other alumni) who are like, ‘You’d better keep winning!’ So it’s pretty funny.

Q: How is your senior spring going?

A: I finished classes about three weeks ago and have basically been sleeping in and playing tennis, and doing senior project work.

Q: What’s your senior project?

A: I’m doing media and photography work for The Telling Room.

Q: Is film production a big interest of yours?

A: Yes, that’s a side hobby. Filming and editing, and creating stuff. Junior year and senior fall was really busy, so it’s nice to finally be able to sit back and explore my hobbies, unlike studying for SATs and doing homework all day.

Q: What are your gap year plans?

A: I’m doing a (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip to Baja, Mexico, and California, hiking for almost three months in the fall. In the winter I’m going back to China and will live with some old friends for a couple months.  I’ll work on my Chinese and tennis, and hopefully get fluent.

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