AUBURN — The St. Dominic Academy boys’ tennis team experienced success in 2015 with a young nucleus of players that included three sophomores and one junior. They went 8-4 in the regular season before being bounced out in the Western Maine Class C semifinals by the Hall-Dale Bulldogs.

That left the Saints wanting more.

The 2016 season is just around the corner and those sophomores have become juniors and the junior, a senior.

“When we started last week indoors and the conditioning the week before, they were training for Hall-Dale,” St. Dom’s coach Andrew Girouard said. “They were training for Boothbay, and they have been training for all these tough matches that we are going to have this season.”

Matt Boulet and his doubles partner Camden Jalbert won the only match for the Saints against Hall-Dale in the playoff match. They were down one set and they took a water break that Boulet didn’t want to take, but it recharged their batteries.

“We did lose the first set pretty badly, but we were able to talk to ourselves and get us pretty motivated,” said Jalbert, a junior. “We did come back to win the match.”

Their chemistry helped them in the comeback victory.

“We took it to them in the second set; it was hard-fought,” said Matt Boulet a junior, said. “In the third set, I thought we got the upper hand. We have been playing doubles on and off the past two years now. We have so much chemistry and we are friends off the court, as well. I have ultimate confidence at any time and any situation for us to pull it out.”

Elliot Hachey, the No. 3 singles player against Hale-Dale, will draw that experience to the 2016 season. He lost his match, 3-6, 4-6.

“Being able to have close matches, per se, with Hall-Dale’s No. 3 was really a confidence-boaster at the end of the season,” Hachey said. “Sure, I didn’t get the win, but I did improve how I did against him in the regular season.”

The Bulldogs swept St. Dom’s in the lone regular-season match.

“We know we need nine-plus wins to maintain that level that we want to get,” Girouard said. “Last year, we made it to the Western semis and we gave Hall-Dale a little scare, I think, compared to the first time we played them at the beginning of the season where they gave us a 5-0 beating. Although we lost 4-1 in the playoffs, we had a chance to actually take that match.”

Hall-Dale went perfect in their 12 matches in the regular season before losing in the regional finals to the eventual Class C state champions and the No. 2 seed, the Waynflete Flyers who went 11-1 on the season. Boothbay was the No. 3 seed; they also went 11-1.

The Bulldogs have been a thorn in the side of the Saints the past few seasons.

“Hall-Dale knocked us out the past couple of years, actually, in the playoffs,” Boulet said. “We are looking to make that push to get ourselves in that position finally.”

In 2014, the Bulldogs defeated the Saints in all five matches in the Western Maine quarterfinals.

Just like the rest of the teams around the state, the Saints are using ladder matches to determine who will be the No. 1, No. 2 and No 3. single players and the two double teams. While the success from the past season hopefully carries over, in the new season everyone starts fresh.

“It makes them push each other and makes them earn their spot,” Girouard said. “Whether it’s first singles, second singles, third singles or first or second doubles, it makes them earn the spot they are going to play.”

While the players are competing against each other for spots, they know it will make the team better.

“I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,” said Cliff Greco, the lone senior and captain. “I have played tennis all four years; I have played doubles with a lot of people. I have had a ball with every single one of them. Win or lose, I just want to be there to help them and for them to help me as well.”

As in the previous three seasons, he will be happy in whatever role the team needs him.

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