AUBURN — For the past few weeks, St. Dom’s girls’ tennis coach Andrew Girouard has been doing pro bono work as a groundskeeper, helping his players clear knee-deep snow off the tennis courts.

He is not the only Maine high school tennis coach who has been handed the honorary title of foreman of a snow-clearing detail. Thanks to a harsh winter, high school athletes around the Pine Tree State picked up shovels to remove snow.

And now the Saints are enjoying a healthy dose of spring as the memory of a bad winter slowly disappears with rest of the snow.

Of course, Girouard has a few choice words about a winter that just wouldn’t quit and made it difficult to begin the preseason.

“It has been ugly,” Girouard, 29, said. “I know a lot of teams are in the same boat. It is hard to get out and practice when you only have maybe court.”

And like all snowbound teams, the Saints made do, using the classrooms to get in shape while winter held its icy grip on Lewiston-Auburn.

Girouard is also a math and French teacher at St. Dom’s and an assistant coach of the tennis teams for the past five years before he succeeded Kevin Cullen as head coach this season.

His responsibilities as the head coach of the boys’, girls’ and junior high teams are Herculean, but he feels comfortable in this demanding role, even though he admits he is “excited and nervous.”

“I have an assistant coach so we kind split the time between of all three of them once we get going next week,” said Girouard, who also is an assistant lacrosse coach.

Girouard has been playing tennis all his life, even though the St. Dom’s graduate did not play for the high school team.

“It is a seasonal activity. You can pretty much do it year ’round. I play it on the weekends,” he said.

Despite a bit of lingering apprehension as head coach, Girouard sees promise in his team and the numbers are on his side to field competitive teams. There are total of 31 athletes who came out to participate in the boys’ and girls’ teams.

“The boys are pretty even — top to bottom. I would like improve upon like we did last year and make the playoffs,” he said. “I want my players to work hard and take on as much enthusiasm and dedication as they can. I think that will help pay off in the long run.”

Girouard has no problem pointing out that Cullen was the architect behind St. Dom’s success.

“My predecessor kind of built the program up,” Girouard said. “The kids respected him and learned a lot from him. So I am trying to take what I learned from him and I am developing and learning on my own, and melding the two together to see what we get for the year.”

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