Rockland native Jeff Madore certainly is flying high these days.

Madore, a Cumberland resident and 1963 graduate of Rockland District High School, coached the Waynflete School boys tennis team to its fifth straight state Class C championship last June and the Flyers appear poised to repeat again this season.

The 67-year-old Madore has coached Waynflete to seven state Class C titles — two of which were girls championships in 2002 and 2006.

He resigned the girls post at the end of the 2006 season and later accepted the boys tennis position after then coach Stephanie Pejic resigned.

Madore credits the competition the Flyer court athletes typically see in the regular season as what "really toughens them up."

"We play in the Western Maine Conference which includes [defending state Class B champion] Falmouth and Cape [Elizabeth] and some really good teams," he said. "We're playing against 'B' level schools, so we really are challenged during the regular season, which makes us a lot sharper actually when we play in the tournament, which is just the 'C' level schools."

That, and Madore has a talented group of players who seem to come out in droves each season for the tennis team.

Prior to last season, when Lincoln Academy's Jordan Friedland won the boys state singles title, a member of Madore's team had won the prestigious individual championship three straight years.

"I got an award this year from the Maine Tennis Association for coach of the year and the way they introduced me they said, 'I don't know if this guy is really that good or if he's just lucky?' " Madore said. "I've been very fortunate to have some kids who are motivated and love to play tennis year round. That's made it a lot easier for me."

Madore never played tennis at Rockland as the school did not have a team, though he was a three-sport athlete for the Tigers, playing football, basketball and baseball.

He graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in chemical engineering in the 1960s and worked for Hercules Incorporated as a salves and marketing representative until his retirement in 2001. He accepted the Flyers' girls tennis team's head coaching position months later.

Now retired, Madore has plenty of time to study tennis, which has bode well for the Flyers' program.

While he gives the majority of the credit for the team's success to the student-athletes, the veteran coach does "spend a lot of time trying to figure out what's the best way to teach this game."

"I went to a [tennis] clinic a couple weeks ago and Jose Higueras, who happens to be the player development guy for the USTA [United States Tennis Association] was there," he said. "You always learn something when you do those kinds of things. I buy videos from college coaches and study those and get ideas on what's the best way to teach this game. I bring in people who are very good players and get them to come in and hit balls with these guys occasionally who are either former Division I or Division III players.

"I try to steal ideas from anybody I can," Madore said.

One of Madore's prized pupils this season is sophomore Isaac Salas, a Camden resident who commutes to the private school.

As a unseeded freshman last year at the state singles tournament, Salas made a significant impact, knocking off two seeded players — including Oceanside exchange student Jordan Doutreluigne — to earn a berth in the quarterfinals.

Salas was named the number one ranked player in Maine for boys ages 16 and younger by the Maine Tennis Association Jan 26 in Portland.

Madore said Salas is "certainly very motivated" and is "right up there with some of the better players [I've coached]."

The team's overall health also has had a great deal to do with their success as rarely do the Flyers sustain injuries, though Patrick Ordway, the team's No. 1 singles player, suffered from elbow tendonitis for much of last season and was eliminated by Friedland in the semifinals of the state singles tennis tournament last year.

Ordway is fully healed and is Waynflete's No. 1 singles player, while Salas is No. 2 and Ben Shapiro rounds out the lineup at third singles.

Madore said the success of the program creates an infectious buzz throughout the school as students want to be part of the now rich tennis tradition.

"More of the boys in the school, or girls if the girls are doing well, want to be on the tennis teams and want to be on the starting seven, so they tend to take lessons in the offseason and go to clinics in the summer," he said. "It tends to motivate people."

Without seeing overconfident, the RDHS graduate likes the Flyers' chances to claim its sixth straight state title this spring. As of April 29, the Flyers were 4-0 and ranked second in Western Class C behind St. Dominic of Lewiston.

"They're pretty strong," Madore said of his team. "They're in position. But they're kids. Anything can happen."

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.