A good tennis player wanted to get better. A good coach was eager to help. Waterville Senior High School senior Thomas Greenspan and boys tennis coach Jim Begin were the perfect combination of determination and mentoring.

“(Greenspan) was my most improved player,” Begin said. “The biggest thing with him is his mental ability. Playing No. 1 singles in our league, you always play a big guy. He was up to it.”

In his first season as Waterville’s No. 1 singles player, Greenspan went 11-5, helping the Purple Panthers reach the regional semifinals. In the state singles tournament, Greenspan reached the round of 48.

For his success, Thomas Greenspan has been named the Morning Sentinel Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

“I already knew that I would be playing singles at the beginning the year. To become first singles, I did what I always do in matches: play my game, stay focused,” Greenspan said via email from France, where he was spending some time with his family.

Greenspan missed a chunk of the preseason competing in the Science Olympiad, but when he returned, Begin saw a player determined to have a big season.

“Right from the get go, I knew he would challenge for at least the No. 2 spot,” Begin said. “I knew within three days of him being back from the Science Olympiad, he was going to be my No. 1.”

As a junior, Greenspan played the occasional singles match, and spent most of the season playing doubles. When he and Begin discussed his goals, Greenspan said he wanted to play singles. Begin outlined a few areas in which Greenspan needed to improve.

“There were always two major parts of the game that I was trying to improve. The first was my consistency and the second was finishing shots,” Greenspan said. “Consistency has always been my game and my strength — just getting one more ball back every time — but it’s always something that tennis players need to work on. I tried to keep my consistency high as I started making harder shots.”

Begin saw improved footwork from Greenspan, and noted that win or lose, Greenspan would learn something from every match.

“I said ‘Always take something positive,’ and he did,” Begin said. “Every single match, he got better.”

Greenspan credited Begin for getting him back into, as he called it, a “tennis mentality.”

“I approached this season in the same way that I approach every season: just staying focused on what I had to do, not letting the opponent affect me mentally,” Greenspan said. “It’s what set me apart from most players, the ability to lose a point or a game and just accept it and move on.”

That ability to stay mentally tough and learn from each match manifested itself in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship. After losing to Evan Drinkwater, Camden Hills’ talented top player, in the regular season, Greenspan beat Drinkwater 6-2, 6-2 to help Waterville win the conference title.

“When I played Drinkwater, I won many of my points on passing shots and lobs. I think it’s one of the things that made me such a difficult adversary for many of my opponents. Usually, going to the net is considered to be a good position to be in, but it isn’t really against me (at least when I’m playing well),” Greenspan said. “When I was missing my passing shots and lobs, I was in big trouble. That’s what happened the first time I played Drinkwater and I just made sure that I didn’t make the same mistakes again the second time.”

Added Begin: “He made the shot he knew he could make in the critical situations. A lot of kids will overhit.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 


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