IN KING LOUIS’ COURT

Tennis is more that just a sport to Louis Desmarteaux.

“It’s a non-stop job,” he said.

If so, then the way Desmarteaux played this season he certainly would be named not just employee of the month, but the year.

The junior rebounded from shoulder tendonitis and some rotator cuff damage from last year and finished the 2006 spring season 19-1 at the No. 1 singles spot. His record includes a win over South Florida’s Federico Barton during last weekend’s Big East tournament in which St. John’s finished fifth.

His only loss this season was to Jason Pinsky during a Feb. 26 match against the University of Pennsylvania. After that he finished the year on a 10-match winning streak.

“He showed a great leadership,” coach Eric Rubhuhn said. “He really dominated. He’s just a really hard worker and has just an unwillingness to want to lose.”

His success was no surprise. To Desmarteaux, tennis is more than a game.

“It’s like a way of life for me,” he said.

No sport or activity was more important to the Boston native growing up. He moved to Canada when he was 10 years old.

“When I was younger I played baseball and soccer and a little bit of basketball, but I was never really on a team because I’ve always been pretty competitive with tennis,” the business major said,

Desmarteaux gained his love for tennis from watching his father, Lou, play professionally as one of the top 150 players in the world. Growing up he said he loved being around that environment and “a winner.” It made him want to be that way.

“It’s in his blood,” Rubhuhn said. “Tennis is an odd sport. You have to have it in your blood. If you don’t have it in your blood you are not going to do anything.”

It’s a love he tries to pass on to others.

In the summer he instructs kids between the ages of 10-18 at the Weymouth Club on the South Shore in Boston.

“I love giving back to what has given me so much, [like] a full ride to college, thinks like that,” Desmarteaux said. “So if I can teach someone basic knowledge that I have, then I guess it feels good.”

But it was the success he had when he did not feel at his best this season that he seemed the most proud of.

“I think the hardest part though for me is continuing to win, continuing to play at that level,” Desmarteaux said. “That’s the toughest part, still winning on your bad day, finding a way.”

It’s something he said he tries to preach to his teammates. Desmarteaux stresses the idea of pushing yourself harder even when you are not at your best because you are not only playing for yourself but the team.

But even he will admit how hard it can be to do that.

“There are so many days were you’re tired, you’re sore, you don’t want to be there,” Desmarteaux said. “At times, it definitely feels like a job.”

Only on some days though. On others, it is his life and his passion, one he does not plan on giving up anytime soon.

“When I’m done with college maybe I’ll play a little pro,” Desmarteaux said. “When I’m done with that, when I have a job one day, I’ll still play. It’s definitely a way and part of my life. Then one day I’ll probably teach my kids how to play if they’re interested. I’m sure it will figure to run in the family a little bit.”