2014-07-07 / Sports

Maturity key to Menezes’ continued rise

By WIL KRAMLICH | Staff Writer

Thornton Academy junior Victor Menezes hits a backhand during an SMAA boys tennis match against Biddeford's Kenny Reyes on May 21 at Thornton Academy in Saco. Menezes was undefeated against SMAA competition this spring and reached the round of 32 in the boys state singles tournament. (CAMERON DUNBAR/Journal Tribune File Photo)

2014 Journal Tribune Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Thornton Academy's Victor Menezes

SACO — Thornton Academy boys tennis coach Andy Carlson could always bank on his team winning at least one point in every match this season. While the Trojans oftentimes didn't need to worry about just one point ”“ they earned four points in nine of their 12 regular season matches ”“ they could sleep soundly at night knowing that No. 1 singles player Victor Menezes would win his match.

Menezes dropped just one match during team competitions ”“ a three-set loss to Scarborough's Ogden Timpson in the regular-season finale that featured tiebreakers in each set ”“ and made it to the round of 32 in the state singles tournament before falling to Falmouth's Aidan McGrory.

Menezes was simply dominant and nearly unbeatable, and for that he has earned the distinction of 2014 Journal Tribune Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

“When you have a player of Victor's caliber go out there and say ”˜Coach, I got this. I'm going to get a point for us' ”¦ that helps, really helps to set the tone,” said Carlson. “It's not a cockiness. It's just a confidence, saying ”˜Coach I'm prepared; I know how to play, I'm willing to take the pressure.' And I think that was really reassuring.”

Menezes broke onto the scene a year ago as a sophomore, when he helped lead the Trojans to the regional semifinals playing at the No. 1 singles spot.

He was even better this season, going 13-1 including playoffs. Thornton got as far as the regional semifinals again, but instead of getting swept like in 2013, Menezes avoided that same fate by securing the Trojans' lone win.

“I think he became a much more consistent player throughout the course of the season. From last season to this season I think he was much more consistent,” said Carlson. “He looked to control the matches to a greater degree. He looked to dictate the pace of the match.”

Carlson said Menezes' maturity and work ethic made him a natural leader on this year's team, and that he was quite coachable for a player of his caliber, which resonated throughout the rest of the team.

Menezes' maturity shone through during the state singles qualifying round, as he told the tournament director that he would have to leave his match ”“ thus forfeiting his chance to advance to the singles tournament ”“ if his qualifier went too long, as he had a scheduled AP exam.

In true Menezes fashion, he won his match 6-0, 6-1, and then got to his exam on time.

“I don't think we have a lot of athletes that would choose academics over athletics,” said Carlson, “and I think it's very rare to have an athlete of Victor's caliber to very easily make that decision.”

Menezes' maturity and dedication showed again after he lost to McGrory in the state singles tournament. Carlson said that as soon as Menezes got in the car with Carlson and assistant coach Chris Kohl, he started going over with the coaches what he did wrong and what he could have done better.

“I don't know necessarily if there's a lot of players that are that resilient after a tough loss,” said Carlson. “To say, ”˜Okay I've got to start preparing now for this day a year from now so that I can hopefully have a different result.'”

As dominant as Menezes was this year, Carlson said he still has some room to grow. He said Menezes still has room for improvement in constructing points. With another year left in high school, Menezes will undoubtedly get better at that, while also continuing to construct a storied career.

— Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or sports@journaltribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.

Honorable Mention:

ӢDavid Behrens, Kennebunk

ӢKenny Reyes, Biddeford

ӢAndrew Mongiat and Adam Marcotte, Massabesic

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