While the Maine high school spring sports season may be in jeopardy, Mt. Ararat’s boys tennis team, behind the leadership of new coach Jack Rioux, are moving ahead as if the season will begin at some point. 

“We are preparing as if there is a season, hoping for the best, and we will wait and see,” Rioux said.

Rioux met with his team before schools across Maine were moved to online learning due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The meeting was helpful, but Rioux, a teacher at Mt. Ararat Middle School, knew many of his athletes beforehand. 

“We had 13 guys show up and it was great to meet them all,” Rioux said. “Since the MPA has allowed us to talk, I’ve talked to them through Facebook and I have talked with them and basically that’s where we are at.”

The Maine Principals’ Association recently adjusted its hands-off guidelines and while it discourages gathering in groups of any kind, Rioux and other coaches are still able to contact their athletes. 

Rioux played tennis in high school and his father (Claude) was the first tennis coach at Lisbon High School. After college, Rioux helped out at Maine Pines, a tennis club in Brunswick, and also ran the Topsham Recreation Department’s tennis program for a few years.

The experience Rioux has with tennis made him an obvious candidate for Mt. Ararat athletic director Geoff Godo. 

“I think that he had had an interest in the tennis program for several years,” Godo said. “I think Jack’s best quality is he makes really good positive connections with the kids, he’s well respected. He coaches the boys soccer team as well, so I knew this was someone who not only could improve the sport but also be a positive influence on the kids … More importantly for me it was about finding someone respected and engaged with the kids.”

Students have been told to stay in shape the best way they can. 

“I’ve told them to stay active,” Rioux said. “It was funny, I think it was the first week we were off, the first week there was no snow on the courts and I was excited. Then I got closer and it was closed. They can’t be playing on the street or with anyone, so I told them to stay active and tomorrow I will have a virtual meeting with our AD. It’s kind of wait and see.”

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