Cape boys' tennis returns to the pinnacle
If you're a member of or a fan of the Cape Elizabeth boys' tennis team, you have to feel that all is right with the world once again.
That's because Saturday, for the first time since 2004, the Capers won the Class B state title, their 13th since 1985.
Cape Elizabeth capped a stirring playoff run with a 5-0 victory over Camden Hills to finish the year 13-3.
"It was a dream year," said longtime Capers coach Andy Strout. "We improved throughout. Over the past couple months, we improved every day and it all came together in the playoffs."
Cape Elizabeth had a solid, but unspectacular 9-3 regular season, marred only by 3-2 losses to eventual Class C champion Waynflete, arguably the best team in any class, and Falmouth and a 5-0 setback to the Flyers. The Capers wound up fifth in Western B, but got hot at the right time and had some good luck to boot.
With defending state champion Yarmouth out of the field completely and top Western Maine Conference contenders Falmouth (ranked third) and York (sixth) squaring off in the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth did have a favorable road and took advantage by eliminating No. 4 Mountain Valley (5-0) and top-ranked Gardiner (5-0) before beating York, 5-0, in the regional final.
Saturday, at Colby College in Waterville, the Capers met a very familiar foe, Camden, in the state match. It was ninth meeting between the traditional powers going back to 1989 and Cape Elizabeth made sure it would beat the Windjammers for the seventh time as it didn't drop a set.
Freshman Matt Gilman capped his strong first season with a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles. Junior Ross Sherman was a 6-1, 6-0 winner at No. 2 singles and freshman Satchel McCarthy took third singles with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph.
Both doubles teams also rolled. Ben Morse and Calvin Alden won their first doubles match, 6-2, 6-1. John Tranfaglia and Baily Dittrich triumphed by the same scores at No. 2 doubles.
"Since we have played them so many times, there are a few tendencies we could be assured of so there weren't any surprises and we played very well throughout the day," Strout said. "The seniors would not be denied this time. The biggest improvements came from the seniors. They have been knocking on the door for four years and finally the door opened. I'm very proud of them, but also how far the freshman came from Day One."
Alden, Dittrich and Tranfaglia graduate, but plenty of talent returns in 2011, suggesting that the Capers might be ready to continue another run of excellence.
"We had plenty of depth this year and that will pay dividends in years to come," Strout said. "With two freshman in the singles and one junior, we have plenty of experience there so we will need to build the doubles as the year goes on."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org