The United States Tennis Association ranks Falmouth High senior Xander Barber No. 1 in New England and No. 8 in the country among boys 18-and-under. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

FALMOUTH – Sam Yoon, a Falmouth High sophomore who reached the semifinals of the state singles tournament last spring, walked off the tennis court after a series of blistering baseline rallies with his new teammate, Xander Barber.

Someone asked Yoon if he had run up against many players similar to Barber, an athletic 6-foot-6 senior who sports size 14 sneakers.

“Oh god, no, he’s very unusual,” said Yoon, whose dual forehands are something of a rarity as well. “It’s very hard to play him.”

How so?

“He hits a very hard ball,” Yoon said. “Very good serve. He hits with not too much spin. Pretty flat. It’s like a laser beam.”

This spring, Barber’s laser beams are poised to cut through Maine’s high school tennis scene, which in recent years has seen some players with NCAA Division I aspirations opting out of high school team participation in favor of a more competitive individual training and tournament environment.


Not Barber. A native of Asheville, North Carolina, he started in eighth grade with his former high school team, Christ School, and played three years of varsity tennis while also rising in United States Tennis Association junior rankings.

Those rankings list Barber as No. 1 in New England and No. 8 in the country among boys 18-and-under. He has committed to Dartmouth College, where his uncle, Bob Dallis, is in his third decade as head coach of the women’s tennis program.

“I’ve been impressed,” said Falmouth Coach Bob McCully, who in a career of more than half a century has mentored previous singles state champions Brian Patterson (1992, 1995), Brendan McCarthy (2014) and Nick Forester (2018, 2019). They went on to play for Notre Dame, Bentley and Bates, respectively.

“I was worried that he would find this beneath his dignity, that he already established himself at a higher level,” McCully said, “but that hasn’t been the issue. He’s wanted to play.”

Barber grew up in an athletic family. His mother, Chris, played soccer at the University of Massachusetts. His father, Bill, played tennis at UCLA and chased professional tennis dreams for more than two years before settling into a teaching role.

Bill Barber cracked the top 300 ranking in singles and top 200 in doubles, winning just over $32,000 in prize money and two satellite tournaments in doubles, one in Brazil and the other in South Korea.


Bill Barber Sr., Xander’s grandfather, organized tournaments and leagues in the Washington, D.C., area and went on to umpire at the U.S. Open. There is video of 2-year-old Xander wearing a Dartmouth sweatshirt and swinging a tennis racket with his father’s voice encouraging him. “You’re a machine!” says the voice. “You never miss!”

Xander grew up playing both tennis and soccer but said he eventually had to choose between them. A travel soccer coach asked him to either commit to being at every practice and match or leave the program. Barber opted for tennis.

“It’s pretty insane,” he said. “I think it’s very helpful to play different (sports). I also play a lot of golf in the summer and I ski as well, but not competitively.”

After spending 20 years as the director of tennis at a country club in Asheville, Bill Barber accepted a job at The Woodlands in Falmouth in the fall of 2021 and moved to Maine. That’s when Xander started playing tournaments nearly every weekend. In January 2022, he won a 16-and-under national doubles title alongside Stiles Brockett of Virginia.

Barber repeated his doubles national title, this time at 18-and-under, a few months ago in Orlando, Florida, with a different partner, Nick Mangiapane of North Carolina. Last July, Xander and Bill Barber placed third in a USTA national father-and-son tournament held on grass at Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Last summer is also when Xander and Chris joined Bill in Maine, and Xander enrolled at Falmouth High for his senior year.


“The team environment is very fun for me,” Barber said. “That’s not something I get to do at all playing USTA tournaments. I’m looking forward to that in college, but it’s also fun for high school. I get to meet some new people.”

Barber has trained a few times with Kennebunk junior George Cutone, the two-time defending singles state champion who has yet to lose a high school match. Kennebunk visits Falmouth on May 3.

“He’s a good player, so that’ll be fun to play him,” said Barber, who opened the season with a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Sanford junior Zachary Parison. “I just love being out there and playing some matches.”

Yoon said his new daily practice partner is a good leader and a good teammate.

“He really wanted to be part of a team,” Yoon said. “He wanted to have fun with his last year of high school tennis.”

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