The Boothbay region draws thousands of visitors each year enjoying a summer full of sailing, shopping and fine dining. But another activity is among the favorites of a Kennebunkport family. For 30 years, Steven Cutone has spent his summers in the Boothbay peninsula, as a child with his parents Alberto and Maria Cutone and now as an adult, returning with his family to spend their two-week vacation and virtually every weekend in this summertime retreat.
Drs. Steven and Jennifer Cutone could enjoy all the activities Boothbay Harbor provides with their three children each summer at home. Kennebunkport is a slightly larger seaside community in York County with sailing, shopping and even a Ports of Italy. But it doesn’t have a pair of tennis-playing grandparents.
The elder Cutones bought a summer home in the 1980s, and for the past 30 years, there is no place Steven would rather be as he brings wife Jennifer and children George, 14, Olivia, 12, and Alberto, 11, to his parents’ summer home. The Cutones enjoy all the traditional tourist activities, but what makes their vacation home special is tennis.
The Cutones began playing tennis shortly after Steven’s older sister, Lisa, was born in a town north of Boston. His parents were born in Italy and arrived in North Boston in the 1950s. Alberto, 79, was born in Naples, Italy, and immigrated to the U.S. for a better life. Maria, 70, lived in Campania, a southern Italian province. She moved to America to be closer with several members of her mother’s family who already had made the move. The couple married in 1965 and had two kids. Steven remembers his mother wanted her children to experience everything America offered. So when Maria received an offer for free tennis lessons and court time, she became the first tennis-playing Cutone. Her husband and children soon followed.
“My mother wanted us to experience every opportunity available. She signed us up for everything. My sister and I enjoyed tennis and after a while started playing in tournaments,” said Steven Cutone. The Cutone kids were so good, they both played Division I college tennis. Lisa Cutone Bacon played for Harvard University and Steven Cutone for College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
So now the Cutones all have rackets and each summer play tennis typically around 7 a.m. most weekday mornings at the Boothbay Region High School tennis courts. And when daughter Lisa Cutone Bacon arrives for a summer vacation, she and her four children, who all play high school tennis, enjoy all the region has to offer plus some time on the tennis court.
Jennifer Cutone is the most recent member of the tennis-playing family. She began playing after her husband resumed playing after nearly a decade’s absence from it. “We are both physicians so there wasn’t much time between medical school and residencies. I didn’t know he played until he went out and played with a friend. It really reignited his passion for the game, and I soon realized, if you want to hang with this family, you better play tennis,” she said.
And playing tennis and spending time with the grandparents in Boothbay Harbor are fine with the younger Cutone generation. After three decades in Boothbay, Steven Cutone seemingly never tires of spending a large chunk of his summer here. “Boothbay Harbor is similar to Kennebunkport, but it’s more relaxed. It’s like a step back in time. We like that,” he said. “And playing tennis with the family is fun, and best of all we enjoy my mom’s Italian cooking.”
The older Cutones spend about half the year on Barters Island. Alberto Cutone arrived in north Boston in 1956. He worked as a cement mason for years and eventually made enough money to buy a summer home. The Cutones narrowed their choice between Bar Harbor and Boothbay Harbor. The couple visited Boothbay Harbor, and instantly knew it was the ideal location.
“We just fell in love with the place when we saw it,” Alberto Cutone said. “As soon as we got here we knew this was the place. We didn’t even look at Bar Harbor. I can’t explain how much we love living here. It’s got everything.”
For the past decade, Alberto and Maria have enjoyed frequent tennis sessions with their grandchildren who are well on their way to becoming top tennis aces like their dad and aunt. All three compete in regional competitions throughout New England. Olivia has achieved the most success by reaching the New England 14 and under semifinals earlier this year. She defeated the No. 4 and 7 players before losing to the top player. She also won the Betty Blakeman singles and mixed doubles tournament in Portland this July which featured several top local college players.
Younger brother Alberto was the youngest entrant in the Betty Blakeman men’s doubles tournament. He teamed with the oldest entrant, Al Sirios of East Boothbay, and the duo won a round. George is also making his mark in regional play against top competition. “He is a little small for his age which makes it challenging because his opponent can be close to six feet tall, but his game is still developing,” said Steven Cutone.
As for the family competition, George, who began playing at 3, enjoys the competitive nature of playing with family members. “I enjoy the game because there are so many options on how to hit the ball. Also, I also enjoy the competition of playing against your siblings, and hanging out with everyone, and seeing how we all improve our games,” he said.
Alberto Cutone has lived in America for seven decades. He achieved the American dream of raising a family and owning two homes. Alberto loves spending his summers in Boothbay, and is proud to be an American. “I wouldn’t mind going back to Italy for a visit, but the United States is the greatest country in the world. It truly is the land of opportunity,” he said.