Tennis: Godbout doesn’t mince words

The Balers' Chris Godbout has been playing consistent tennis at the No. 1 singles position.

Chris Godbout isn’t going to apologize for his antics on the court. The San Benito High senior and No. 1 player on the boys tennis team freely admits he tries to get under the skin of his opponents.
“I succeed by being a (pain in the butt),” he said. “I try to piss the other team off. If I’m losing, I’ll stall a lot. If I’m winning, I’ll let them know I’m happy by skipping around the court. It’s definitely winning ugly.”
Godbout pointed out that he’s doing everything within the rules, and that he’s never had a player or coach complain about his behavior.
“It (my actions on the court) are not that bad, but it’s enough to affect my opponents and see changes in their games sometimes,” he said.
The 5-foot-5, 140-pound Godbout doesn’t lack for confidence. As a freshman, Godbout thought he would be playing the top spot by the time he was a senior. And that’s exactly how things unfolded, as Godbout played No. 1 doubles as a freshman and Nos. 3 and 4 singles in his sophomore and junior seasons.
“It was just a matter of waiting it out for senior year,” he said. “I haven’t noticed much of a difference (going from Nos. 3 and 4 singles to No. 1). I’m not sure if I got better or if all of the top guys from last year graduated. But so far the guys I’ve been playing have been around my skill level.”
Godbout is the captain of the team and one of only two seniors on the roster. The Haybalers graduated 10 seniors off last year’s team, and they also lost former coach Chris Yoder. The combination had Godbout thinking the 2016 season was in jeopardy.
That’s why Godbout is enjoying every match and practice. The Balers are in a rebuilding year, as approximately half their players entered spring practice having never played tennis before. But players like No. 4 singles player Israel Alvarez—a senior who had never played competitively before this season—has come on strong.
“The highlight of the year is being able to play since it was pretty close that we weren’t going to have a team this year,” he said. Through eight matches, San Benito was 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Monterey Bay League’s Pacific Division. “We were not really expecting to win this year, so it’s been pretty exciting in how things have turned out. We still need more technique basics, but we’re improving.”
Godbout possesses solid groundstrokes and a potent serve, but he admits he needs to improve his volleys to take his game to a higher level. Godbout takes tennis seriously, but he also has the proper perspective.
“My individual goals are to get better and just have fun while it lasts,” he said. “(During a match) I fight to beat the opponent. I may not always win, but I’ll do my best to keep up and make them work to beat me.”
Godbout has no filter, always speaking what’s on his mind. He’s always got something to say, whether you like it or not.
“What I like most about tennis is it’s an individual sport and it’s all on you,” he said. “A lot of older, rich and influential people play it, too, and they give useful advice.”
In the off-season, Godbout spent time working at Ridgemark, helping Yoder run youth tennis camps and clinics. It was Yoder who instilled in Godbout the feisty attitude that has come to define San Benito’s ace.
Even though Godbout gets under his opponents’ skin, he doesn’t sacrifice sportsmanship to do it. In a match against Monte Vista Christian earlier this season, Balers coach Rick Espino said two of the players’ parents from MVC came up to him afterward and complimented Godbout on his sportsmanship.
“Chris changed a line call (from out to in) knowing it was good and clapped for the guy,” Espino said. “I’ve seen him do that at least a half-dozen times this year, and I don’t even get to watch him all the time. He’s competitive but has maintained a good dose of sportsmanship. He doesn’t give up and he goes after it.”

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