Kennebunk High sophomore George Cutone returns a volley during the state singles championship at Bates College in Lewiston. For the second straight year, Cutone won the individual championship and led the Rams to a team championship. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

A year ago, he was new to the high school tennis scene, a 120-pound freshman who could plausibly portray himself as an underdog against more physically mature opponents.

This spring, Kennebunk sophomore George Cutone sprouted inches and put on weight. He got a sampling of what it means to be the favorite, and the pressure of expectation that entails. In the semifinal round of the MPA singles state tournament, Cutone found himself down 3-0 in each set against free-swinging Falmouth freshman Sam Yoon.

“He came out really strong and I got really tight,” Cutone said. “He’s a very aggressive player and he kind of took it to me.”

Trusting in his experience, his savvy and his shot-making abilities, Cutone grinded out a 6-4, 6-4 victory. He went on to beat No. 2 seed Leif Boddie, a senior from Greely, who was hampered by cramps brought on by an exhausting semifinal of his own. Cutone won his second straight singles state title, leading 6-1, 3-0 when Boddie was forced to retire.

Three weeks later, Cutone provided the clinching point in a 3-2 team victory over Camden Hills to give Kennebunk its second straight Class A state championship. He remains undefeated in high school competition. Once again, he is our choice as Varsity Maine Player of the Year in boys’ tennis.

“He’s gotten physically bigger and more muscular,” Kennebunk Coach Paul Gaylord said of the 5-foot-7, 140-pound Cutone. “I just felt he was more dominating this year than last year.”


In team competition, Cutone racked up a total games score of 144-7. In five matches during the singles tournament, he dropped only two games outside of the semifinal match with Yoon – one against Boddie and one against Yarmouth’s Quinn Federle in the Round of 16.

“Mentally he’s so tough,” Gaylord said. “The whole time he’s playing, he’s dissecting his opponent’s game.”

Camden Hills senior Ezra LeMole faced Cutone in the Class A team finals and lost 6-0, 6-0. A year earlier, LeMole managed to win three games against Cutone as Kennebunk captured its first boys’ tennis title with a 3-2 victory.

“He’s gotten better,” LeMole said. “The biggest thing was a change in the shape of his forehand. Last year, he would drive it a lot, and that was actually easier to handle than this year, where he’s maintained the same pace, but he’s got more spin, the ball lands deeper and it’s harder to deal with. And he’s gotten taller. That helps, too.”

Cutone is the oldest of three tennis-playing prodigies in his family. His sister, Olivia, was unbeaten at No. 1 singles to lead Kennebunk to the Class A girls’ state title. His brother, Alberto, will reach high school in the fall.

All three of them began playing at a young age after their father, Steve, strung a rope over a tree branch and hung a tennis ball from it. Now, George says, they practice seven days a week. Since the winter, they have been working out with a local trainer, Daryl Conant, to improve their strength, speed and agility.


“I’m able to put a little more weight behind my shots,” Cutone said. “It increases my ability to execute my shots and move around the court. And the (added) height helps on the serve, as well by being able to reach up more, even if it’s just a few inches.”

Last weekend, Cutone finished third in a USTA Junior Sectional at Babson College. In a field of 32 of the highest-rated age 16-and-younger boys in New England, he advanced to the semifinals before losing a tough three-set match.

He has tournaments in North Carolina and Orlando coming up in July. When he’s not on the courts, he can be found mountain biking, enjoying the beach or weeding the family vegetable and flower gardens.

“Tennis doesn’t completely consume our lives,” he said with a laugh.

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