As the Kents Hill boys tennis team goes for its third consecutive conference title this spring, Robert Patenaude will already be done the college recruiting process.
Patenaude, of Augusta, is planning to sign his National Letter of Intent this week to play at Division II St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. The NLI signing period varies by sport, but there is an early window for tennis that goes today through Nov. 20.
“I wanted to really focus more on biology as a major,” Patenaude said. “They had a good bio program that I could just do other things with.”
Patenaude said he also hopes to compete as a skier at St. Anselm, but tennis is his No. 1 sport.
“With sports, you do a lot with other people. You want your team to do well, but you yourself have to perform,” Patenaude said. “There’s only one person on the court, and that’s you. You can’t blame other people. I like the pressure.”
Lessons with Andre Giguere also helped Patenaude’s game evolve. Giguere was a standout at Waterville Senior High School and Thomas College, and is now a tennis pro at Champions Fitness Club.
“Before I went to Andre, I would hit, and the whole thing was rally-based,” Patenaude said. “When I went to Andre, I was playing serious games with him. I wasn’t trying to do rallies. I was playing to beat my instructor.”
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Several coaches and players who have key roles on their teams are headed for the NCAA tournaments. The University of North Carolina is seeded third overall in the 19-team Division I field hockey bracket. Freshman Kristy Bernatchez, a Belgrade native and Messalonskee High School graduate, has played in all 21 games for the Tar heels this season. Bernatchez has started six games and has five goals and one assist for 11 points.
UNC has been the NCAA runner-up in each of the last three seasons. The school is one of the four host sites for the tournament, and the Tar Heels will open the tournament Saturday against the winner of today’s play-in game between Delaware and Liberty.
Maranacook graduate and Manchester native Kayla Parker plays for the Mt. Holyoke field hockey team, which is ranked 16th in the country in Division III. The Lyons host Gwynedd Mercy at 4 p.m., today, in a first-round game. Mt. Holyoke is 17-2 this fall and has outscored its opponents, 78-19. Parker, a junior, has started all 19 games on defense.
Belgrade native and Messalonskee graduate Ali Omsberg will join the Middlebury women’s soccer team as the Panthers host Bridgewater State in a first-round game Saturday in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Omsberg, a junior midfielder, has started 12 of 17 games for the Panthers this season. She started Sunday as Middlebury (13-1-3) defeated Williams for the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship.
Among the coaches, one notable is Gardiner graduate Ross Gorham, who is an assistant coach with the University of New Hampshire field hockey team.
Gorham was not allowed to play on the high school team at Gardiner because rules prevent boys from playing, but developed his game at the national level. He was a member of the U.S. under-21 national team in 2007, and the Wildcats have an overall record of 44-19 in his three seasons as an assistant coach.
UNH is 15-6 this fall and has won its last eight games, including victories over Fairfield and Albany to capture the America East conference title. The Wildcats play at Duke in a first-round game Saturday
Messalonskee graduate Lexy Cole is a goalie on the Wildcats, but has not seen any action as a sophomore this season.
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Speaking of coaches, a couple local athletes are taking on new roles this winter. Hailey Chadbourne, a Gardiner graduate, is the assistant women’s basketball coach at Bates. What’s interesting about that is that Chadbourne did not play basketball in high school at Gardiner or in college at the University of Iowa. Chadbourne was a standout field hockey player who won the Miss Maine Award as a high school senior, and also played field hockey at Iowa before injuries ended her career. Chadbourne is also an assistant field hockey coach at Bates.
At the University of New England, Nokomis graduate Kelley Paradis is also in her first season as an assistant coach with the women’s basketball team. Paradis played at UNE and scored 1,467 points in her career. She also holds the program’s career records for steals (278) and blocked shots (118).
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While most Division III teams in New England start their basketball seasons later this week, some Maine teams have played a few games, and local players are making an impact. At the University of Maine at Augusta, Richmond graduate Jamie Plummer began her college career by scoring a total of 55 points over her first two games. UMA won each game (against Eastern Maine Community College and UMaine-Machias) by six points.
At Central Maine Community College, Mt. Blue graduate Gabby Foy has started all five games as a freshman and is averaging 12.0 points in 21 minutes per night. Madison graduate Sam Bruce, another freshman, is averaging 11.4 points per game, while shooting 68 percent on 2-pointers and 42 percent on 3-pointers.