Falmouth sweeps Class A tennis titles; Greely girls tops in Class B

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Falmouth’s boys’ and girls’ tennis teams show off their Class A championship plaques after winning state titles Saturday.

Justin Pelletier / Sun Journal photo.

Greely’s girls’ tennis team shows off its third state championship trophy in four seasons after downing Caribou, 3-2, Saturday.

Contributed photo.

More photos below.

Four local tennis teams played for state championships Saturday and three, the Falmouth boys and girls and the Greely girls, brought home the hardware.

Unbeatable

Falmouth’s girls’ program has set a standard that no one else will likely ever meet because the Yachtsmen keep raising the bar of perfection to stratospheric levels.

Saturday’s Class A state title marked the fourth in a row for the program, the 10th overall consecutive championship (Falmouth won Class B every year from 2008-13) and the Yachtsmen have now won a mindboggling 157 straight matches.

After a 12-0 regular season (its ninth consecutive without a loss), Falmouth, ranked second in Class A South, ousted No. 7 Deering and third-seeded Gorham by 5-0 scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. In last Thursday’s regional final at Bates College in Lewiston, the Yachtsmen downed top-ranked Thornton Academy, 4-1, to advance.

Kate Kelley dropped her first singles match, 3-6, 5-7, to Eva Sachs, but Meredith Kelley won at second singles (6-4, 6-4, over Emma Nassif), Amanda Watson won a long match at third singles (3-6, 7-5, 10-3, over Brianna Paul), Mary Hyland and Mia Cooney took their first doubles match in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 6-0, over Cordelia Perry and Katie Shedd) and Maddy Joyce and Grace Dimick were also triumphant at second doubles (6-0, 6-2, over Ky Nguyen and Yawen Liu).

That left just Northern A champion Brunswick standing in the way Saturday at Colby College in Waterville and Falmouth wouldn’t be denied, capping its 16-0 season with a 5-0 victory.

Kate Kelley won a marathon match at first singles, downing Kira Wolpow, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (1). Meredith Kelley had an easier time at second singles, beating Anna Parker, 6-1, 6-2. Watson outlasted Cassie Ridge at third singles, 7-6 (7), 6-4.

Hyland and Cooney took care of business in straight sets at first doubles, beating Katharine Kunhardt and Sabina Smith, 6-2, 6-1. Dimick and Joyce had to go three sets, but beat Rae Bamberger and Lea Scrapchansky, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

“This year was special and very different from the past few,” said Yachtsmen coach Bill Goodspeed. “First, we have four wonderful seniors, Kate Kelley, Amanda Watson, Mary Hyland and Mia Cooney. who will be missed terribly. Second, we had a flatter team, meaning the difference from top to bottom was less than in past years. This was critical because many of the teams we played had top five state singles players, which made it tough on our top players. Our doubles teams never lost, nor did Amanda at third singles. The girls played clutch tennis the last week of the season. Gorham was tough in the regional semifinals, and Thornton Academy was too in the regional finals. Brunswick was equally tough, even though we prevailed, 5-0. The girls also had a blast, which was one of our goals.”

Falmouth will be challenged in 2018, as it joins the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and will have some holes to fill. An 11th-straight crown and extension of the win streak to 173 isn’t out of the question, however.

“Next year, we will seek to replace the departing seniors,” Goodspeed said. “Meredith Kelley will likely play in the top spot, but after that, it will be wide open. Some doubles players will likely play singles, and we will look to some of our swing varsity to step into meaningful doubles roles.”

Back on top

Falmouth’s boys won Class A crowns in 2014 and 2015, but lost to eventual state champion Thornton Academy in last year’s regional final.

This spring, the Yachtsmen posted a 12-0 regular season mark, then, as the second seed in Class A South, embarked on another run to the championship.

Falmouth eliminated No. 7 Windham and third-ranked Portland by 5-0 scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, then got another crack at the top-ranked Golden Trojans in the regional final and this time, the Yachtsmen had the answers, eking out a 3-2 decision.

Jordan Bruce and Trey Fallon won at first doubles, 6-2, 7-6 (4), over Asher Thompson and Adam Lovejoy, and Matt Adamowicz and Greyson Cohen beat Caleb Richard and Jon Ma (6-2, 6-2) at second doubles. Falmouth won just one singles match, but it was enough to put it over the top, as Alex Klemperer beat Balazs Balati, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, at No. 2 singles. Nick Forester lost, 3-6, 3-6, to Dariy Vykhodtsev at first singles and Peter Stegemann fell, 3-6, 2-6, to Jack Xiao at third singles.

The Yachtsmen then capped their 16-0 season with an impressive 5-0 victory over Lewiston in Saturday’s state match.

Forester beat Cole Ouellette at first singles, 6-1, 6-4. Klemperer was a 6-1, 6-3, victor over Joe Bisson at No. 2 singles. At third singles, Stegemann was a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Caden Smith.
 
Bruce and Fallon won their first doubles match, 6-2, 6-1, over Asier Garcinuno and Ben Ferrence. Adamowicz and Cohen accounted for the final point, beating Sam Frechette and Ben St. Laurent at second doubles, 6-3, 6-2.

“With singles, I tend to get players who know what they’re doing,” longtime Falmouth coach Bob McCully said. “In doubles, they don’t always have that kind of experience, so I put a lot of work into trying to develop doubles teams. We have five very good doubles players this year and we were able to get everyone into matches. That’s the program. To remain competitive in years to come, you want to play as many as you can.

“This has been an outstanding group to work with. They’re outstanding kids, students and they get along well together and with me.”

Bruce, Cohen, Fallon and Stegemann graduated, but expect the Yachtsmen to remain a powerhouse in 2018.

Just enough

Greely’s girls also won championships in 2014 and 2015, then fell short a year ago. This spring, the Rangers were only beaten once, a close 3-2 loss at Falmouth May 4. As the top seed in Class B South, Greely blanked No. 8 Morse (5-0) in the quarterfinals and held off defending champion Cape Elizabeth, the No. 4 seed, 3-2, in the semifinals.

At the regional final last Thursday, the Rangers advanced with a 4-1 victory over sixth-ranked Yarmouth.

Greely got wins from Kathryn Paré at second singles (6-0, 6-1, over Clementine Blaschke), Paige Evans at third singles (6-1, 6-2, over Lexie Caterine), Katie Steinberg and Jordan Bryant at first doubles (6-0, 6-3, over Lisa Tchitchkan and Marien O’Neill) and Lea Schuepfer and Kaitlyn Thompson at No. 2 doubles (6-1, 6-0, over Daly McGrath and Celia Clarke). The Clippers’ lone point came at first singles, where state singles champion Lana Mavor beat Izzy Evans, 6-2, 6-1.

Yarmouth finished the season with a record of 9-6.

The Rangers went on to battle Caribou in the state match and did just enough to survive, 3-2..

Izzy Evans won at first singles (6-3, 6-1, over Gabrielle Marquis) and Paré was triumphant at No. 2 singles (6-4, 6-1, over Ashley Matlock). Steinberg and Bryant won their first doubles match, 6-1, 7-6 (3), over Hailey Holmquist and Conner Spencer. Paige Evans fell in a three-set thriller at third singles to Kelly Nicklaus, 2-6, 6-2, 6-7 (7). Thompson and Schuepfer also lost at second doubles (4-6, 3-6 to Danielle Hanson and Clara Richards), but Greely had enough for its third state title. 

“This year’s team was very fun to coach,” said Rangers coach Ben Caswell. “There was a lot of talent on the team from top to bottom. The girls pushed each other during practices, but at the same time were great teammates and seemed to genuinely like each other. The girls played for one another and in the end were rewarded with the state title. This year’s championship meant a lot. We didn’t win too many 5-0 matches this year and it showed how important having a strong team meant. The competition in the Western Maine Conference was as tough as it’s ever been and we knew we would be challenged all year. We had to fight to get our victories and that’s much more rewarding then just coasting through matches.”

Greely will be on the short list of favorites to win again in 2018.

“Things next year look very promising although we will be missing one of our core players,” Caswell said. “We’re going to be losing three-time champion and the face of Greely tennis for the past four years, Kathryn Paré. She’s been the most consistent, respectful and gracious player I have ever coached, in any sport. She played with the same intensity, temperament, and poise whether she was winning or losing. She lead by example and she will be greatly missed. We’re also losing our foreign exchange student, Lea Schuepfer. That means we will be returning five of our seven playoff performers, as well as our other four varsity players who are ready to fill those open spots. Hopefully the ladies will be ready to defend their title.”

Memorable run

Yarmouth’s boys’ team wasn’t viewed as a championship team when the season started, but the Clippers still wound up playing in the final match of the year.

After a 7-5 regular season, fourth-ranked Yarmouth edged No. 5 York and top-ranked Morse by 3-2 scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. The Clippers then met perennial powerhouse Cape Elizabeth, the No. 3 seed, in the regional final and Yarmouth again prevailed by a 3-2 score to reach the state match for the first time since 2009.

The Clippers won two of the three singles matches, as Igor Nikolic took his first singles match, 6-3, 6-4, over Ted Hall, and Matt Clinton was a 7-6 (4), 6-2, winner over Declan McCormick at third singles. Yarmouth’s other point came from second doubles team Max Allen and Andrei Lougovtsov, which beat Maximo Kesselhaut and Dan Howard, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Shepard Shutkin lost a three-set match at second singles, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, to Matt Galvin. Henry Coolidge and Revi Patel also fell in three sets at first doubles, 6-2, 1-6, 3-6, to Mac Brucker and Carter Brock.

“In our (regional final) match, all of my players played the best match of their lives,” said Yarmouth coach Mark Marstaller. “When we played at Cape early in the season, the conditions were terrible, but the change in our performance against this same opponent shows how my players were able to grow during practices, matches, and the singles and doubles tournaments.”

Yarmouth finally met its match Saturday in the state final against defending champion Camden Hills, losing, 5-0, to wind up 10-6.

Nikolic was defeated, 4-6, 4-6, by Matt Morse at first singles. Shutkin lost, 0-6, 2-6, to Colby Arau at No. 2 singles. Clinton was defeated, 2-6, 0-6, by Josiah Krul at third singles.

Coolidge and Patel lost, 1-6, 3-6, to Cooper Russell and Henry Cooper at first doubles. Allen and Lougovtsov were beaten, 1-6, 3-6, by David Poutasse and Noah Heidorn in the No. 2 doubles match.

“Of course, I’m pleased with the season and our results,” Marstaller said. “What tennis team has ever gone 7-5 during the regular season and made it to the state finals? Winning states would have been sweet, but Camden Hills was obviously the better team.

“My players had a tremendous season. For the second year in a row, my singles players were different than those I had the previous year. My four doubles players and my number three singles player were all returnees from last year. Igor and Shep were new to my program. They all improved tremendously through the season. I had no players make the Round of 48 in the singles tournament, no doubles team that made it past the second of four rounds in the doubles tournament and only one year-round tennis player. However, we grew as a team, beat Cape in the playoffs for the first time in my 19 years of coaching and won the regional title. We were able to do this with only two practice courts at Rowe Elementary School and all of our matches away from home as our courts are being resurfaced. I’m going to miss these guys.”

Yarmouth will have several holes to fill in 2018.

“Six of my top seven, all but Shepard, are seniors, so next season will be interesting,” Marstaller said. “Sam Potter, last year’s number one singles, will be back from his stint as a Senatorial page and Shepard will return. I have a couple of strong underclassmen. Will Nicholas and Liam Ireland will be sophomores and Cam Butler will be a junior. There are also several strong middle school players who will start arriving next year. The biggest boost to my program, however, is showing athletic underclassmen that if they aren’t successful in their spring sport, they can join the tennis team, gain some skills at a life-long sport and have a successful season. I love having unorthodox, athletic doubles players.”

Sun Journal sports editor Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely’s Kathryn Paré serves the ball during the Rangers’ regional final victory over Yarmouth last week.

Contributed photo.

Izzy Evans returns a shot during Greely’s regional final win over Yarmouth.

Contributed photo.

Greely’s Katie Steinberg (with partner Jordan Bryant looking on) serves during the regional final.

Contributed photo.

Falmouth’s Trey Fallon serves during the Yachtsmen’s 5-0 win over Lewiston in Saturday’s Class A state final.

Justin Pelletier / Sun Journal photo.

Falmouth’s Jordan Bruce prepares to return a shot during the Yachtsmen’s state match victory.

Justin Pelletier / Sun Journal photo.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.