LENOX -- The No. 2 singles player in Lenox may be more comfortable on a golf course than a tennis court.
That doesn't mean Thomas Villetto can't help the Millionaires defend their Western Massachusetts crown.
"He's got a ton of competitive experience," said Lenox boys coach Phil Cohen. "In tennis, he's still feeling his way through matches. The most important trait of anyone in high school tennis is that they can win a match. That's pretty much what Tom proved the other day."
Villetto, a top golfer for the Millionaires, already has a pair of wins in his first season on the tennis team. The senior was sixth overall at the state Division III golf championships in 2011, but tennis is a sport he said he took about a 14-year break from.
After working on his game a little this winter, Villetto has stepped into that second singles slot. Despite winning a Western Mass. tennis title a year ago, Lenox was decimated by graduation and Villetto has been a welcome addition.
"It's a blast. I love having Tom," said top singles player Andrew Vickery. "It makes the whole lineup a lot stronger. We move a bunch of guys down, put him at 2 singles. It's good."
Vickery's prodding helped Villetto come out for this year's team. The golfer had talked about playing for Lenox in the past, but golf always got in the way. Not this year.
"I love tennis," Villetto said. "I love one-on-one sports. That's what I miss about golf -- I love playing match-play golf. I love going against somebody. I think just the feeling of trying to be superior to the other person, it's the alpha-male instinct. That's what I try to do when I'm out there."
That tenacity in everything Villetto does is what Cohen loves about his newest pupil. It only took until Villetto's second match for him to get a win. He's also had hiccups, like a loss to Monument's Kevin Li where he managed to win just two of 14 games.
But Cohen said Villetto's skills are progressing rapidly and he's happy with what he's seen. The senior said he struggles most with instinctively knowing what to do when he's in a pinch. Villetto has shots he can fall back on when he needs to on the golf course. He's lacking that match experience on the court.
"You expect him, because you see how he can swing the racquet out there, to always know the right shot to play at the right time," Cohen said. "But that just comes with match-play experience. While he has a lot of the shots, putting them together and using them at the right times is what's developing for him."
The hope is Villetto can hit his stride just in time for Lenox to make another postseason run.
"I think I have tons of room for improvement," Villetto said. "That's what I'm really excited about. Just keep improving because, you know, I'm a rookie out here. I'm a senior but I'm a rookie."
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