Saint Dominic Academy tennis coach Andrew Girouard, center, is surrounded by some of his players. Kneeling is Paige Cote, left and Caroline Johnson, right. Back, left to right are Raegan Hachey, Avery Greco, Madison Tyus, Isabella Gendron, Becca Zimmerman and Molly Brown. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

AUBURN — This season, the St. Dom’s girls’ tennis team won’t be down 1-0 before a serve ever takes place.

In 2018 season, when they went 2-10, the Saints struggled to field a full team for matches and were forced to forfeit at least one of the five matches that take place during a regular season contest.

This year, the only two returners — Kylie Leavitt and Avery Greco — along with coach Andrew Girouard were able to recruit 12 newcomers for the upcoming season.

Despite the lack of returning players, there wasn’t much concern that there might not be a team this spring.

“From the beginning of the year, everyone was saying things like they were excited to play tennis,” Greco said. “I am glad we have a full group this year — last year we didn’t have enough players.”

The excitement that Greco speaks of began before the school year officially started, during the summer. That’s when Girouard knew his program was going to be OK, because of the number of players who showed up for the offseason program.

“I had some that came out to summer tennis, and they were very excited about playing and they were like, ‘We are coming out for the (regular) season,’” Girouard said. “The good thing, they are coming out, but the bad thing is they are seniors. It’s trying to manage both that veteran athleticism and the younger athleticism, too.”

Paige Cote and Caroline Johnson are senior newcomers joining Leavitt, who’s also a senior.

Girouard said that girls at St. Dom’s have more options in the spring for sports than 10-15 years ago, with the additions of lacrosse and track and field.

He still put word in the ears of his students about the tennis team and how he was still looking for players to join the team.

“I would plug it in my classes, too, I would say, ‘What are you doing this spring, do you want to play tennis?’” Girouard said. “Or friends of my other players, they are recruiting their own friends to play tennis. We were trying to hit it from all angles.”

One of those newcomers is junior Raegan Hachey. She’s double-dipping this spring as she’s trying to play lacrosse and tennis this spring.

“I love being athletic. I love both of the sports, sadly they are in the same season, but I want the opportunity to play both,” Hachey said.

She wanted to play tennis last year but was coming off a surgery and couldn’t make it happen. She has been playing lacrosse since second grade and played tennis with her family until she got to middle school at St. Michaels in Augusta.

One of her good friends is Hannah Kenney, who played basketball and hockey in the winter.

“Definitely, when I saw how she was able to do it, I knew the school would give us the opportunity to do good things like this,” Hachey said. “She handle it great.”

Hachey wanted to do two sports because the lacrosse team had a lot of graduates from a season ago, and the numbers are also down for that program.

Hachey said both Girouard and lacrosse coach Leslie Klenk have been supportive of her decision to try to play both sports this spring. There hasn’t been many conflicts so far during the opening weeks of preseason practices.

Like the rest of the teams in the region, the Saints are battling with mother nature and have had limited work outside. The time they have had on the courts has been spent on ladder matches, which will determine their starting lineup.

So far the newcomers have adjusted well.

“We were able to use balls and racket, and we were able to play at EL for a bit,” Greco said. “Just having that little bit of time, we’ve seen people develop so much.”

Greco, who’s a junior, hopes with the numbers back up hopefully it brings stability to the program.

“It was a big loss after my freshman year, losing eight seniors,” Greco said. “We lost our top eight, who were all seniors. Last year was a rebuilding year and this year we are going to definitely work hard.”

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