Logan and Keenan Alexander and Gavin Toussaint all played hockey for Edward Little and are now playing tennis. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — There are a lot of new faces on the Edward Little High School boys’ tennis team this season, and many of them are familiar with one another, if not the sport itself.

And you’ll forgive them if their stroke seems more like a slap shot.

Many of the team’s newcomers are trading their hockey sticks for rackets this spring as they try to help the Red Eddies improve on their 5-7 record from 2017.

Out of the 25 players who tried out this season, seven — Dylan Campbell, Gavin Toussaint, Logan Alexander, Keenan Alexander, Nathan McBride, Evan Saltis and Kegan Rodrigue — play hockey.

Coach Greg Vincent he was excited to see a large number of hockey players.

“Hockey players tend to make really good (tennis players),” Vincent said. “The footwork is there and the hand-eye (coordination) is there and it almost comes natural to picking up tennis … We have six or seven guys who played hockey who didn’t play for the tennis team last year. They are picking it up fast. A couple kids that were on the basketball team, the same idea, they are just athletic. They picked it up very quick.”

Basketball players on the team include Max Creaser, Caleb Yarnevich and Joey Vallee.

Raiding the hockey team for talent is nothing new to area tennis teams. Lewiston has built its boys’ team throughout the years with a large contingent of skaters.

“I am hoping we can push them a little bit,” Vincent smirked. “Maybe with the athletic ability we have and some of the hockey players that we can definitely (push them). You are 100 percent right there. They have had a lot of guys from hockey who have stepped up with who have been athletic and been able to step right in.”

Cousins wanting to be teammates one more time

Cousins Logan and Keenan Alexander figured playing tennis was one more way for them to play a competitive sport together. Keenan, a senior, missed the entire hockey regular season because of a concussion. He didn’t play a spring sport prior to this year.

Logan, a sophomore, decided joined the tennis team after playing lacrosse a year ago.

“It was kind of a group effort, Logan (and I) grew up playing tennis together when we were little, hitting it back and forth,” Keenan said. “We just wanted to continue it.”

“Me and Logan we just like to compete.”

Their competitive spirit has been there since they were little, but they’ve never really had the chance to compete alongside each other because of their age difference.

Until this year.

Ad since this is Keenan’s only season on the tennis team, his goal is to be the best he can as the team tries to make the playoffs.

Logan, on the other hand, has three years of eligibility and wants to make them all count.

“I just want to make a point this year to prove to the coach that I am a good athlete that can play many sports,” Logan said. “I will try to get better at this sport and maybe this will be my sport.”

They are all finding out quickly that tennis is a little more difficult than it may appear on TV, particularly with the amount of running that’s involved.

“It’s a workout,” Keenan said.

Vincent said the two have made the transition smoothly from the ice to the court.

“Keenan is super quick and very athletic,” Vincent said. “Logan, maybe slightly better stroke, but together they make quite the formidable duo as far as the ability to play. I am glad to have both of them on the team this year.”

Toussaint hopes tennis helps him improve as a goalie

Gavin Toussaint is the Red Eddies’ starting hockey goalie, and is hoping tennis can help him get quicker.

“I think tennis is better for my reaction (time),” Toussaint said. “It gets me better at that, so I just want to practice that so I can focus on hockey as much as I can.”

Goalies generally use a tennis ball as practice tool anyway by throwing it against a hard wall and reacting to its bounce, mimicking unpredictable shots being fired in their direction.

Vincent doesn’t mind that some players are using tennis to develop their skills for hockey — or any other sport that they may play throughout the year.

“If (Toussaint) ends up being one of the doubles players, volleying and playing at the net, the quick responses, quick returns,” Vincent said. “Tennis is a quick game, you got to (have) quick feet, quick hands, you got to be able to think quickly.”

Toussaint isn’t unfamiliar with the sport, either. His older brother, Noah, played the sport for four years at St. Dom’s, from which he graduated last year.

“My brother loved this sport,” Toussaint said. “I use to play when I was younger, he just liked it, I am not sure (yet). He was pretty good at it.”

Noah was a Sun Journal first-team All-Region player in 2017.

Gavin, meanwhile, said he helped plant the seed for mass participation in the hockey locker room at the end of the hockey season.

Vincent said the goalie-turned-tennis-player has the tools to be successful.

“Even though he hasn’t played a lot of competitive tennis, his strokes are there,” Vincent said. “He has tennis sense, he knows where to be on the court, he has solid strokes even now not having played a lot of competitive (matches). Playing with his brother and his dad to a point has definitely given him a nice edge as far as coming in this year.”

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