It took more than half of a high school career for Kyle Beynor to realize he wanted to play college tennis. He’s made it happen.
Beynor recently wrapped up his freshman season at Springfield College and made an immediate impact for the Pride as a singles and doubles starter. Not bad for a guy who only recently decided to make the sport part of his college education.
“Probably junior year (of high school) I decided I wanted to play college tennis,” Beynor said. “It’s definitely a sport you can play for the rest of your life, no matter which level. Just to know that I wanted to end up coaching the sport, and college tennis is a great way to get better, I knew this was something I wanted to do.”
Beynor dominated Naugatuck Valley League tennis courts over his last two seasons at Woodland. The Prospect resident won the 2012 and 2013 NVL singles titles, lost just one singles match in his high school career and led the Hawks to three straight league championships.
Still, the NVL isn’t among the more highly regarded high school conferences in Connecticut and Beynor knew he would be taking a major step up in difficulty when he decided to pursue college tennis.
“Joe (Giannelli, another former NVL champ playing at Springfield) told me this was a pretty strong league,” Beynor said. “Through them and the practice I got from out-of-league play and tournaments with Coach (Jim) Amato, it helped a lot knowing that it was going to be tough and that I would have to fight for anything I got.”
Beynor picked Springfield after consulting with Woodland physical education teacher Kathleen Ebner. He wanted to play tennis while pursuing a degree in physical education, and Springfield gave him the opportunity at the Division III level.
“D3 is really competitive and just as tough any other schools,” Beynor said. “It just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Before Beynor arrived, he asked Giannelli for advice on what to expect, and Giannelli found out about the mutual respect between the two.
“He really looked up to me coming into Springfield,” said Giannelli, the Holy Cross High grad who served as the Pride’s captain this spring. “He knew all about my success and I had heard about his success, so it was funny that we ended up on the same team. We compete against each other in practice because we have similar tactics, so it’s awesome to be able to play against him.”
Giannelli also warned Beynor about the struggle of a freshman season, especially coming out of the NVL.
“For me and Kyle coming in, we would go undefeated all these seasons, and then we’d come into college and get beat,” Giannelli said. “It’s a tough adjustment to accept losing.”
Beynor went 7-7 in both singles and doubles during his freshman campaign. He said he went into the season with no expectations and just making it into the playing ladder was a success.
“I was just hoping I could make it on the team,” Beynor said. “Being able to make it into the ladder, it was better than I thought it would ever be. I’m just looking to contribute as much as I can to the team.”
He called his first season a success and still was able to step back and marvel at his situation.
“For a first season of college tennis, you have no idea what you’re going to get into,” Beynor said. “The reality of it all is pretty awesome. Coming from the NVL, where we’re not the strongest, and you come here and there are kids from China, Sweden, Germany. It’s just incredible.”