Seniors Natasha Kempes of the St. Paul girls tennis team and Chris LeBeau of the Bristol Eastern boys track team share Athlete of the Week honors for area scholastic sports.
Kempes, the daughter of Julia Marcano and Mario Kempes, competed in the NVL tennis singles championships and finished second last week.
“My experience with this year with the NVLs was not as great as the past years,” Kempes said. “I came in strong, although battling a cold, and I wanted to get past my first two rounds as quickly as I could to save my energy for the semis and if I moved on have more energy for the finals.
“Semis against [teammate] Victoria [Kilbourne] completely drained me. I went 7-5, 7-6 in that game and then playing Ally [Mayne of Woodland in the finals], I was so out of it energy-wise. I gave all the effort and everything I had left in me, but it wasn’t enough and I am sad I wasn’t able to come out winning my senior year, but I am glad I got the chance again.”
Her head coach, Beth Hines, had only good things to say about her senior leader.
“Natasha Kempes, truly our most valuable player, is one of the best tennis players to come out of Bristol,” Hines said. “She is incredibly talented, playing year-round in competitive tournaments.
Kempes’ St. Paul highlights include going undefeated as the team’s No. 1 singles player for the past two years. She was the NVL individual champion for two years, all-conference in 2016 and a member of the All-Press team for 2016.
“I look forward to what’s in store for Natasha. I wish her the best of luck as she continues to pursue her dreams and am confident she will be successful in all aspects of her life,” Hines said.
Up next for Kempes is the State Open individual competition next week.
“I feel like towards the end of the season sometimes I lack the intensity and drive that I had when the season first starts, so I am working every day with my coach to try and prepare myself for the states,” Kempes said. “My goal is to try and make it farther than I did last year, which wasn’t very far, and to just give every ounce of effort and strength I have in me.”
As far as next year, Kempes is planning to take a year off before going to Lynn University in Florida, where she plans to major in sports management, minor in biology and play on the women’s tennis team.
LeBeau, the son of Bruce and Deirdra LeBeau, was Bristol’s most successful performer at the CCC South Championships at Veteran’s Stadium in New Britain on Wednesday.
He was the lone local entry to capture two events, the 800 meters in 2:03.30 and 1,600 meters in 4:34.22, while running anchor for the Lancers’ fifth place 4x800 relay team with Ben Wadowski, Wyatt Doyon and Harrison Dayton, in a time of 8:51.87.
“I knew it would be between me and a couple of other kids and I knew if I ran real well I could win,” LeBeau said. “The 1,600 was basically between me and another runner and in the 800 there would be three or four of us that would really be close. It was exciting and I’m happy that I was able to get the wins and see all of my hard work pay off.”
Today, he’s scheduled for the Class L meet in Manchester, where he will be running the 1,600, 4x800 relay and maybe the 800.
“I’m hoping to do well,” LeBeau said. “If I get a new [personal record], I might be able to get to the State Open. ... If I qualify in the 800 it will be my first time outdoors.”
Regardless of what happens next, running and playing as a midfielder in soccer for the Lancers has been rewarding for him.
“It’s probably made me into the strong person I am work-wise and that includes in the classroom,” LeBeau said. “It’s taught me to respect my opponents, because if I don’t then they can probably get the upper hand. If I want to beat them, I have to outwork them.”
LeBeau, who will run cross country and track for CCSU next year, owns the indoor school mark in the 1,600 at Bristol Eastern with a time of 4:36.80.
She began playing tennis at age five. Her mother played basketball in high school and her father’s sport is soccer. He was on the Argentina 1978 World Cup championship team and is a Spanish soccer commentator for ESPN. Natasha’s favorite athlete is tennis pro Andy Roddick and the one word she would use to describe herself is “ambitious.” Whatever she does in life, it will encompass tennis, either as a pro, teaching the game or working with injured players. This, she believes, will take place from her future residence in the state of Florida.
He’s been playing soccer since the age of five and started track with the Hershey Meet just before high school. He then took the running sport up as a freshman. Not only is he an athlete, but he’s been active with the math team at school, as well as a trombone player for the school band. His favorite day is his birthday, because he is with family. His twin sister, Jillian, is also a three-sport athlete at Bristol Eastern, competing in cross country, basketball and track. His aunt, Erika Treannie, is a truant officer at the school.
Contact Bob Montgomery at .