It’s hard to be perfect, not impossible.
Pittsfield native Max Beckwith returned to the city this spring after closing his high school tennis career at The Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Conn., with a perfect 24-0 singles record.
His tennis career sprouted on the courts at Herberg Middle School. His grandfather started taking him to the courts when he was seven years old and Beckwith loved the sport ever since.
The run of perfection first gained legs when he was a freshman at Pittsfield High School and went undefeated in Berkshire County. He decided that a change of schools may be necessary in order to push his tennis skills to the next level.
“I never thought I would go to a prep school and my brother did all four years at Pittsfield,” Beckwith said during a recent phone interview with The Eagle. “Halfway through my first year at PHS I started to look at schools, Hotchkiss stood out and tennis was the reason why.
“I really liked PHS and have friends I am still in touch with, I just wanted to push myself.”
A change of pace was apparent as soon as he arrived in Lakeville. Smaller classes, a larger workload, indoor tennis courts and adjusting to life in a dorm were all new, but playing tennis as a Bearcat made things a bit easier.
“I had a family in the tennis team at Hotchkiss,” Beckwith said. “Tennis really helped because I got to know all the kids when training in the fall.
“I was meeting new people and it was a tight-knit group that really became a tool to lean on.”
Beckwith began on sixth singles and ended in third singles and first doubles as a senior. He was positioned to play in fifth singles in his junior year, but the season was called due to the pandemic.
The Hotchkiss campus turned into a bubble in Beckwith’s senior year. However, the Bearcats played an eight-match season and Beckwith hit the courts as a captain.
“I always wanted to eventually be a captain,” Beckwith said. “I had great senior captains [when I was a sophomore]. They were so respected and I wanted to lead in the same way, through example.
“I wanted to speak up and lift people up because that is what the senior captains did for me.”
Beckwith’s actions set a high bar as he closed his high school career with 24-straight singles wins. The streak didn’t cross his mind as a sophomore, but it was a challenge to ignore the noise in the closing matches of his high school career.
“The last couple of matches I was definitely thinking about it,” Beckwith said. “I would try to block it out.”
However, these were the moments that Beckwith searched for when deciding to change schools.
“Putting that pressure on yourself, that is something I really enjoy about tennis,” he said.
From championship matches to simply growing on and off the court, Beckwith searches for that next challenge and will continue his tennis career at Haverford College in the fall.
“I love to compete in any sport,” Beckwith said. “You need be competitive. I remember a couple of my match points that ended with an ace, all the pressure just goes away.”