Waynflete boys, Portland girls favored as tennis playoffs commence; Flyers shine in singles' tourney
As the high school tennis season nears its conclusion, it's becoming more and more obvious that the dominant color scheme when the hardware is presented will be Waynflete green and white, perhaps with a little Portland High blue and white and Cheverus purple mixed in.
Monday afternoon, at Bates College in Lewiston, Waynflete junior Brandon Thompson won the boys' state singles title with a 6-3, 6-2, triumph over freshman Patrick Ordway, who, oh by the way, just happens to be his teammate.
But that was only part of the story as Thompson and Ordway were joined in the "Final Four" by fellow Flyer, senior Devin Van Dyke.
Now, Waynflete, the two-time defending Class C state champion and top seed for the upcoming team playoffs, winner of 42 successive matches, looks to make it three straight and has be considered a heavy favorite to do so.
Cheverus is in the chase for the Class A title, while on the girls' side, Portland, the top seed, seeks to get back to the state match and win it all for the first time. Cheverus, Deering and McAuley are also in the hunt. In Western C, Waynflete appears to be the top threat to three-time champ North Yarmouth Academy.
After rolling through their early singles matches, Thompson, Ordway and Van Dyke traveled to Lewiston Saturday for three more matches apiece to advance to the semifinals.
Thompson, the top seed, easily downed George Stevens Academy's Zheyang Xue, 6-0, 6-1, held off Yarmouth's Ben Robinson, 6-3, 6-3, and ousted Matt Gilman of Cape Elizabeth, 6-0, 6-4, to move on.
Ordway, ranked second, was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Oak Hill's Brian Bradstreet, a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Madawaska's Nathan Beaulieu and a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Mountain Valley's Toni Weber, the seventh seed.
Van Dyke, the No. 3 seed, beat Zack Kofman of York, 6-0, 6-3, Ellsworth's Tyler Small, 6-4, 6-1, and Lincoln Academy's Jordan Friedland, the No. 6 seed, 6-2, 6-2.
Monday, in the semifinals, Ordway ended the run of No. 5-seed Bob Tom Flynn of John Bapst, 6-2, 6-0, while Ordway was holding off Van Dyke, 6-1, 7-5.
Then, in the all-Waynflete final, Thompson ascended to the top of the state heap for the first time.
Cheverus' Will Lenk was a 7-6 (5), 6-0 winner over John Bapst's Lucas Hubbard in the first round, but was eliminated by Ellsworth's Small, 1-6, 7-6, 1-6.
In the girls' competition, which was won three times in the past four years, including last spring, by graduated Waynflete standout Christine Ordway, Portland's Mary Moran made it to the round of 16 after knocking off No. 11 seed Kelsey Ouellette of Winthrop, 6-2, 6-2, but lost, 6-0, 2-6, 1-6 to sixth-ranked Natalie Egbert of Gorham.
Teammate Liza Iselborn beat Esther Adams of Deer Isle-Stonington, 6-0, 6-3, in the first round, then was eliminated, 2-6, 0-6, by No. 5 seed Thu-Trang Ho of NYA. McAuley's Addie Devine, the No. 10 seed, fell 1-6, 2-6, to Falmouth's Libby Voccola and teammate Paige Hickey, who defeated Bangor's Annie McKay, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round, was ousted, 4-6, 2-6, by Yarmouth's Hannah Potter, the No. 9 seed. Waynflete's Kaitlyn Thompson lost in the first round, 2-6, 4-6, to Oak Hill's Hannah Langlois.
The team tennis playoffs start Wednesday and Thursday with the quarterfinals.
Portland's girls are the Western A favorites after a second consecutive 12-0 regular season. The Bulldogs won every match by a 5-0 scores with the exception of a 3-2 home triumph over Gorham May 10 and a 4-1 win at Scarborough May 20.
"We finished the season with only three individual match losses, one each for the three singles players," said Portland coach Bonnie Moran, The Forecaster's Coach of the Year in 2009. "It's has been a great season. This core group of senior varsity players are the ones who got me into coaching in the first place and I'm delighted they have all done so well. I was happy to get all my seniors into varsity matches, as well as some newer players so they could start getting some experience. The JV are still excited about playing and know there will be many slots to fill next year."
The Bulldogs host No. 8 South Portland (5-7) in the quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at 4. On May 21, Portland rolled over the visiting Red Riots, 5-0. The teams have met five times previously in the playoffs. South Portland won in the 1988 quarterfinals and 1989 and 1991 semis, while the Bulldogs eliminated the Red Riots in the 2007 preliminary round and 5-0 last year in the quarterfinals.
"We're heading into the playoffs confident, but not cocky," Moran said. "One of my husband's old baseball coaches put it best: 'Confidence is vital. Overconfidence is fatal.' Tennis is a fickle game. Anything can happen in a particular match, but I think we are mentally tough. One of our strengths is digging deep and coming back from behind, although I tell them to stop doing that, it's too stressful!"
McAuley is the No. 3 seed after a 10-2 regular season, marred only by a 3-2 setback at Gorham and a 5-0 home loss to Portland in the finale last Tuesday. The Lions host No. 6 Deering in the quarterfinals. The Rams went 8-4 this spring.
The Stevens Avenue rivals have met seven times in the playoffs since 1991, with Deering winning on five of those occasions. The most recent confrontation came in the 2007 quarterfinals (a 3-2 McAuley victory).
The winner will likely draw No. 2 Gorham (11-1) in the semifinals. Deering lost, 4-1, at home to the Rams back on May 21.
Cheverus, in its first season under coach Erin Ovalle, raced to a 3-0 start and finished on a four-match win streak to wind up 8-4, good for the No. 4 seed and a home quarterfinal round date with No. 5 Scarborough (9-3) Thursday. The Red Storm won the regular season encounter, 3-2, in Scarborough on May 5. The teams have no prior playoff history.
The winner will likely meet Portland in the semifinals Saturday. The Bulldogs defeated the Stags, 5-0, at home May 12. Portland beat Scarborough 5-0 in the 2004 preliminary round and eliminated Cheverus 5-0 in the 2006 preliminary round in the only prior meetings.
In Western C, Waynflete finished 10-2, losing only to defending Class B champion Falmouth, 5-0, and reigning Class C titlist NYA, 4-1. The Flyers closed on a five-match win streak and take the No. 4 seed into the playoffs. Waynflete hosts No. 5 Hall-Dale (10-2) Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Flyers won both prior playoff encounters, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2008 quarterfinals (a 4-1 Waynflete victory).
"Our young team gained valuable on-court experience with each match," said Flyers coach Linda Cohen. "I have high hopes for success as we enter the playoffs. As we do not play or see (Hall-Dale) during the regular season, it is difficult to predict how we will match up with them."
A win Wednesday almost certainly sets up a semifinal round showdown at NYA (11-1) Saturday in the semifinals. The rivals have squared off nine times in the past 11 postseasons with NYA winning on six occasions. The most recent battle came in the 2008 semifinals (a 3-2 Panthers victory in the semifinals).
On the boys' side, Waynflete (12-0) gets a bye into Saturday's Western C semifinal round where the Flyers will meet either No. 4 Madison (8-4) or No. 5 Winthrop (7-5). Waynflete didn't face either potential foe in the regular season. The Flyers ousted Winthrop in the 2008 semifinals, 5-0, and are 6-2 all-time in the postseason against the Ramblers. Waynflete has never faced the Bulldogs.
"Those matchups are dependent on others and out of our control, so we don't spend time thinking too far down the road," said Flyers coach Jeff Madore. "My hopes are simply that we stay healthy and play up to our capabilities."
In Western A, only Cheverus qualified. The Stags won every match but one, losing, 4-1, at Windham May 20 to go 11-1, good for the No. 3 seed. Cheverus hosts No. 6 Bonny Eagle (8-4) in Thursday's quarterfinals. On May 17, in Portland, the Stags beat the Scots, 4-1. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2002 regional semifinals (a 3-1 win for Cheverus).
Deering went 4-8 and wound up ninth in the region, but only the top eight teams qualified. Portland was also 4-8 and finished 10th.
Looking ahead, the Western A Final for boys and girls is Wednesday, June 9 at Bates College in Lewiston. Start time is 9:15 a.m. The Western C Finals are the same day at the same location, starting at 12:45 p.m.
The Class A state championship matches will be held Saturday, June 12 at Colby College in Waterville. Start time is 10 a.m. The Class C championships will also be contested at Colby at 1 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org