LYNNFIELD — If anyone could prove how far hard work, dedication and true commitment can take a student-athlete, it’s Lynnfield High School 2018 graduate Arlex Correa.
Correa, a two-year captain of the Pioneers’ boys tennis team, made it his mission to restore life to what looked to be a dying program in Lynnfield. He was only a freshman when he showed up at tennis tryouts in 2015 with zero experience. Despite that, Correa somehow managed to play himself into the varsity rotation, alternating with fellow freshman Colin Lamusta at third singles and second doubles on a team that won just three of 12 matches.
“I knew what a racket was, but had never really played,” Correa said. “But I loved it once I tried it and for four years I worked at it to become a good player. I would get up at five or six in the morning and play tennis then go to school, and after school Colin and I would play. I also played a ton in the summer.”
Now, just three short years after showing up wide-eyed and totally inexperienced, Correa’s excited to have the opportunity to take his tennis to another level at Division III Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.
“It really came down to just Roger Williams, which had a great program and offered all that I wanted academically,” he said. “I’m very excited about being a part of their program. I loved the campus, I love the coach (Barry Gorman), who I’ve been talking to for a long time. He and I have become good friends, so I’m happy to have a spot there. Their program is very good, and the guys on the team are really cool and funny and I think I’m going to get along great with them.”
Correa said he also considered attending Wentworth Institute of Technology and Western New England College, but made the decision to choose Roger Williams after Gorman liked what he saw in Correa’s game.
“Going into senior year I emailed some schools a recruitment video to get myself out there and he (Gorman) was one of the first to respond and one of the ones who came to watch me play in high school matches,” Correa said. “I played soccer for three years then quit to go to Boston Sports Club to play more tennis. I figured I would get farther in tennis than I would in soccer and I really love tennis.”
Correa said he doesn’t regret his decision to stop playing soccer and dedicate himself to tennis.
“I have no regrets about doing what I did to focus on tennis,” Correa said. “I’m pretty proud of where I am today to be able to play in college.”
Correa’s also an excellent student, having taken AP courses in Spanish, history and chemistry as a junior and economics, computer science, calculus and physics as a senior.
The Pioneers had a season to remember in 2018, going undefeated and winning their first Cape Ann League title in 15 years. Their magical ride came to an end in the Division 3 North championship, losing to Weston 3-2 in June.
“We stayed with everybody after that first year and didn’t lose anyone,” Correa said. “We’re all kind of in the same age range and want to win together in our final year to make it all worth it, the four years we’ve all been playing together. We’ve certainly worked hard enough for it and we deserve it and since freshman and sophomore year, this is what we’ve been dreaming about and there’s nothing like making your dreams come true.”
At the epicenter of the Pioneer’s success, are Correa and Lamusta, along with Lynnfield third-year coach, Joe Dunn, Sr.
“He’s a great coach, he really knows what he’s doing,” Correa said. “He knows the ins and outs and knew how to coach us. He didn’t always have to talk to us during the changeovers and he sometimes let us make our own mistakes and let us fix our own problems.
“For those of us who went through the bad times, Coach Dunn came in just at the right time and was just as dedicated and motivated as any of us.”