With singles complete, North area teams eye tennis titles
Monday's state tennis singles championships at Bates College in Lewiston weren't without Forecaster Country representation as Falmouth's Anna Criscione and Greely's Thomas Dillman competed in the semifinal round.
Criscione was ousted in straight sets by eventual champion Christine Ordway of Waynflete, while Dillman was also eliminated by a Flyer, Brandon Thompson.
With singles play complete, it's time for local teams to take center stage. The preliminary round began Tuesday (too late for print) and state championships will be bestowed a week from Saturday. Expect familiar names to have a major say in who captures the hardware.
Criscione has been a revelation during her freshman season as she led the defending Class B state champion Yachtsmen to a perfect record and the top seed (more on her team in a moment).
After navigating her way through the preliminary round of the singles tournament, Criscione, seeded fifth, downed Yarmouth's Hannah Potter (a 6-2, 6-2 first round winner over Washington Academy's Ina Tessnow-von Wysocki) 6-1, 6-2 in the second round Friday, then advanced to the final four with wins Saturday over Gorham's Natalie Egbert (6-2, 6-2) and No. 4 Kelsey Boyce of Morse (6-1, 6-2). Her title dream ended Monday morning with an 0-6, 1-6 loss to Ordway, who then downed Scarborough's Kasia Jania to win the crown for the third time in four seasons.
Criscione wasn't the only girl to make a mark. Teammate Analise Kump, the No. 8 seed, was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Deer Isle-Stonington's Chelsea Ciomei in the second round and a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 winner over NYA standout Thu-Trang Ho (who advanced Friday with a 6-2, 6-2 win over MCI's Donhathai Sutassanamarlee) in the round of 16 before she was ousted, 1-6, 0-6 by Ordway.
Hallsey Leighton, another Falmouth star who was seeded sixth, won 6-0, 6-1 over Windham's Jenna Willey Friday before losing 6-4, 3-6, 2-6 to Fryeburg's Pauline Schopp in the round of 16.
Greely's Eliza Williams lost 1-6, 2-6 to Tegan Talbot of Mt. Ararat in the first round.
On the boys' side, Dillman was seeded sixth, but still made his way to the semifinals. Friday, he was a 6-0, 6-2 second round victor over Lisbon's Guy Jenkins. Saturday, Dillman downed Bangor's Ian McDonnell, 6-2, 6-0, then beat Scarborough's Nick Tolman, 6-3, 7-5, to set up a date with Thompson Monday, where he fell 0-6, 1-6.
Yarmouth's Mike Hickey, seeded eighth, won 6-2, 6-4 over Windham's Dan McGovern in the second round and 6-4, 6-2 over John Bapst's BobTom Flynn in the round of 16, but his quest to play in the final four was denied by Mt. Ararat's Mike Hill (who went on to win a third straight title), 0-6, 0-6, in the quarterfinals.
Falmouth's Nick Polko defeated Mt. Blue's Alvaro Vian Mola, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round, then lost 2-6, 0-6 to No. 4 seeded Joaquin Perez-Marsa in the second round.
Yarmouth's Ben Robinson eliminated Gardiner's Dan Paradee. 6-3, 6-4 in the first round, then was ousted 3-6, 3-6 by Windham's Nate Johnson in the second round.
Can Falmouth, NYA do it again?
A year ago, the Falmouth girls rolled to the Class B championship, while North Yarmouth Academy was the best in Class C.
Not much has changed.
The Yachtsmen, if anything, are even more dominant this season and are heavy favorites to win it all again. Falmouth (12-0) will host either No. 8 Maranacook (4-8) or No. 9 York (4-8) in Thursday's quarterfinal round. The Yachtsmen didn't play the Black Bears this year and downed the Wildcats, 5-0 in the regular season finale last Wednesday.
"We look strong, confident and in control," said Falmouth coach Sandy Stone. "I feel pretty good about our chances for a deep run in the playoffs and feel lucky to have the privilege of coaching such a dream team of accomplished and successful players."
If Falmouth advances, as expected, it will have a much tougher test in the semifinals.
Cape Elizabeth (8-4) is the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Yarmouth (7-5) in Thursday's quarterfinals. The teams have had their share of playoff thrillers in the past and should be closely matched again. The Capers won the regular season match, 4-1 at home May 8.
The Yachtsmen have two wins this year over the Capers (4-1 at home April 16 and 5-0 on the road May 26) and also enjoyed a 5-0 home victory over the Clippers on May 4.
Freeport is also in the hunt. The Falcons went 6-6 this year, a four-win improvement over 2008 and the best regular season mark in program history. Freeport is ranked seventh and goes to No. 2 Oak Hill (10-2) for a quarterfinal round match Thursday. The teams didn't meet this year.
Greely finished 3-9 and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
In Western C, NYA beat everyone but Falmouth this year and went 11-1, good for second in the region. The Panthers will host either No. 7 St. Dom's (7-5) or No. 10 Carrabec (5-7) in Thursday's quarterfinals. Ultimately, NYA's biggest test figures to come from Waynflete (10-2 and fourth in the region). The Panthers downed the Flyers 3-2 on May 20. Since 1999, one or the other powerhouse has captured every state championship but one.
Three boys' teams in the mix
On the boys' side, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth will all be heard from in the Western B tournament.
The Yachtsmen, the three-time defending regional champion, lost two of their first three matches this spring (3-2 to Cape Elizabeth and 3-2 to top Western C seed Waynflete), but rallied to win their last nine in succession to go 10-2, good for the No. 3 seed. Unfortunately for Falmouth, it drew No. 6 Cape Elizabeth (9-3) in its first match, Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Yachtsmen bounced back from their early loss to the Capers with a 3-2 home win over their longtime rival in the regular season finale last Tuesday.
"The Heal Points really make a difference in tennis," said Falmouth coach Bob McCully. "I never want to show disrespect for any opponent, but there are some very tough teams in the Western Maine Conference that challenge each other all season and end up with very unfavorable draws into the tournament.
"We split two very close 3-2 matches with Cape Elizabeth. If we survive that test, I anticipate another huge challenge. I have felt all along that Yarmouth is the team to beat this year. I hope we can play well enough to challenge them in the Western Maine finals."
The Falmouth-Cape Elizabeth winner could see Greely in the semifinals.
The Rangers (7-5) are seeded seventh and go to No. 2 Mountain Valley (12-0) in the quarterfinals. The teams didn't meet this year.
Yarmouth, a preseason favorite, went 10-2 this year (losing only to Falmouth and Waynflete), but that was only good enough for the No. 5 seed, sending the Clippers to No. 4 Lisbon (10-2) for Thursday's quarterfinals. Yarmouth didn't face the Greyhounds this year. A win at Lisbon would send the Clippers to top-ranked Lincoln Academy (11-1) or home to play No. 8 York (6-6) in the semifinals. Yarmouth didn't face Lincoln Academy this season and beat the Wildcats, 5-0 at home May 6.
"We are right where we want to be entering the playoffs," said Clippers coach Mark Marstaller. "We got a break from the fact that the northern teams in (the region) hold three of the top four spots. This made Falmouth enter the bracket with Mountain Valley and the tough teams of Greely and Cape Elizabeth. I feel good about how we will make out."
Freeport (2-10) and NYA (1-11) failed to qualify for the postseason this spring.
The semifinals will be played Saturday on the court of the higher remaining seed. The regional final matches are Wednesday, June 10 at Bates. Class C boys and girls play at 9:15 a.m. Class B goes at 12:45 p.m. The state championships are Saturday, June 13 at Colby College in Waterville. Class C matches start at 9:15 a.m. Class B matches begin at 12:45 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.