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 Yachtsmen blue, yellow and white, perhaps with a little North Yarmouth Academy black and orange mixed in.
Monday afternoon, at Bates College in Lewiston, Falmouth’s Analise Kump fell just short of becoming the first Yachtsmen player to win the state singles championship since Lindsay Whipple did in 1985, losing, 4-7, 6-7 (4) to Brunswick’s Elena Mandzhukova in the final.
Teammate Annie Criscione lost to Mandzhukova in the semifinals.
Now, the Falmouth girls’ team, the two-time defending Class B state champion and top seed for the upcoming team playoffs, winner of 41 successive matches, looks to make it three straight and has be considered a heavy favorite to do so.
NYA hopes to make it four in a row in Class C, while Yarmouth looks to be the team standing in Falmouth’s way. On the boys’ side, Falmouth is the lone local team to make the playoffs, but has a great shot to go all the way.
In the singles tournament, Kump, ranked first in the state, had little trouble Saturday, defeating Cape Elizabeth’s Jenni Hewes, 6-1, 6-0, Lewiston’s Michelle Nadeau, 6-1, 6-1, and Caribou’s Jenna Selander, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 6-4. In the semifinals Monday morning, Kump downed No. 4 Emilie Cloutier of Lewiston, 6-2, 6-1, setting up the showdown with Mandzhukova, who eliminated Criscione, 0-6, 1-6.
Criscione, seeded third, had advanced to the semifinals by virtue of wins over Frankie Lally of Edward Little (6-1, 6-1), NYA’s Anna Jaeger (6-2, 6-0) and No. 6 Natalie Egbert of Gorham (6-3, 6-0).
NYA’s Thu-Trang Ho, ranked fifth, was a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Portland’s Liza Iselborn and a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camden’s Emma Blakeley, the No. 12 seed, before being eliminated, 0-6, 1-6, by Cloutier in the quarterfinals. Falmouth’s Libby Voccola downed Messalonskee’s Audrey Knowlton, 6-0, 6-1, and upset No. 10 Addie Devine of McAuley, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 7 Carissa English of Camden Hills, 6-0, 6-2, then was finally ousted, 2-6, 2-6, by Mandzhukova.
Yarmouth’s Hannah Potter, the ninth seed, made it to the Round of 16 after beating McAuley’s Paige Hickey, 6-4, 6-2, but lost, 2-6, 0-6, to Selander. Before losing to Criscione, Jaeger beat Madawaska’s Audrey Bergeron, 6-4, 7-5, and Deer Isle-Stonington’s Chelsea Ciomei, 6-2, 6-2. NYA’s Sarah Jordan beat Brunswick’s Willa Purcell, 7-5, 6-2, then lost, 2-6, 4-6, to Selander. Freeport’s Marissa Lewis defeated Messalonskee’s Erin Chapin, 6-1, 6-3, then was ousted, 2-6, 1-6, by Cloutier.
In the boys’ competition, which featured three of the final four hailing from Waynflete and the title going to Flyers junior standout Brandon Thompson, Yarmouth’s Ben Robinson went the farthest. Robinson beat Monmouth’s Noah Bosworth, 6-1, 6-1, and Bangor’s Patrick Stewart, 6-2, 6-2, before being eliminated by Thompson in the Round of 16, 3-6, 3-6.
Falmouth’s Nick Polko lost, 2-6, 3-6, to Scarborough’s Adam Saltz in the second round, the same round in which teammate Taylor Dimick was ousted, 0-6, 5-7, by Mountain Valley’s Toni Weber. Dimick won his first match, 7-5, 6-2, over Gardiner’s Brian Jortner.
Falmouth’s girls not only went undefeated (12-0) this spring, the Yachtsmen didn’t lose a single point, despite playing some very strong competition. Falmouth has produced sensational teams over the past five seasons, but this year’s group could be the best of all.
“It’s been a remarkable season from a performance and record standpoint,” said Falmouth coach Sandra Stone. “(Assistant coach) Prisca (Thomson) and I have been fortunate to have such skilled breadth and depth in our 20 players and recognize that many of our JV players would be varsity players at many other schools. It has also been a fabulous season for development of team camaraderie, bonding and sportsmanship, and we have seen such improved skills & confidence in so many of our players. Varsity co-captains Emma Wilberg and Amanda Gallagher have set such a positive tone and high bar of mentorship this year.
The top-ranked Yachtsmen opened against No. 8 Fryeburg (6-6) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. On May 11, Falmouth beat the visiting Raiders, 5-0. The teams have no playoff history.
“It’s hard not to feel good about a strong, deep run,” Stone said. “Since we played preseason scrimmages against both Class A powerhouses, Lewiston and Brunswick, those 4-1 wins would make our chances in the Class B playoffs look excellent.”
Yarmouth, which lost only to Falmouth, NYA and Western C power Waynflete during a 9-3 regular season, wound up with the No. 4 seed in Western B and hosts familiar rival Cape Elizabeth (7-5) Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Clippers captured the regular season meeting, 4-1, in Cape Elizabeth, on May 17. The teams have met in eight of the past 12 postseasons with each squad winning four times. Last year, the Capers advanced with a 3-2 quarterfinal round victory.
If Yarmouth wins, it will go to Falmouth for the semifinals Saturday. On May 7, the Yachtsmen beat the Clippers, 5-0, in Yarmouth. The teams have played three previous times in the playoffs, with the Yachtsmen winning, 3-2, in the 1996 semifinals and the Clippers prevailing, 3-2, in the 1997 regional final and 4-1 in the 2000 quarterfinals.
Greely went 4-8, but wound up 10th in Western B. Only the top eight qualified for the playoffs.
Freeport (2-10) finished 13th.
In Western C, NYA beat every foe save one, Falmouth (5-0 on the road, May 14), during an 11-1 campaign that gave the Panthers the No. 3 seed. NYA hosts No. 6 Mt. Abram (9-3) in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. The teams don’t play in the regular season and have never met in the playoffs.
If, as expected, the Panthers move on, they’ll either go to No. 2 Winthrop (12-0) or host No. 7 Jay (7-5) in Saturday’s semifinals. NYA didn’t meet either team in the regular year. Last year, in the regional final, the Panthers beat the Ramblers, 5-0. NYA hasn’t faced the Tigers in the postseason.
On the boys’ side, Falmouth only lost twice to seemingly invincible two-time Class C champion Waynflete (both by 5-0 scores), but the Yachtsmen won their other 10 matches to earn the No. 3 seed.
“I’m very pleased with the way my team has progressed,” said longtime Falmouth coach Bob McCully. “We are relatively young, with captain Nick Polko at number one singles, being our only senior. We have three juniors playing key roles, Taylor Dimick at No. 2 singles, Tommy Bazarian at No. 3 singles and Harlan Cutshall at No. 1 doubles. Will Robinson is a sophomore who partners with Cutshall and freshmen Sam Holland and Tom Wilberg have really progressed as a strong No. 2 doubles team.”
Falmouth hosted No. 6 York (9-3) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. On May 18, in York, the Yachtsmen eked out a 3-2 victory. The teams’ last playoff meeting came in the 2008 quarterfinals (a 4-1 Falmouth win).
“Its frustrating to draw a team as good as York in a quarterfinal matchup,” McCully said.
If the Yachtsmen advance, they’ll likely play at No. 2 Lincoln Academy (11-1) in the semifinals on Saturday. The teams don’t play in the regular season and last met in the 2005 semifinals, a 4-1 Falmouth win.
Defending Class B champion Yarmouth went 6-6 this spring, but that was only good for the No. 11 spot in the region and just the top eight teams made the playoffs.
Greely (4-8) wound up 14th. Freeport (3-9) finished 15th.
In Western C, NYA went 1-11 and wound up 12th in the Heals.
Looking ahead, the Western B Final for boys and girls is Wednesday, June 9 at Bates College in Lewiston. Start time is 4:15 p.m. The Western C Finals are the same day at the same location, starting at 12:45 p.m.
The Class B state championship matches will be held Saturday, June 12 at Colby College in Waterville. Start time is 4 p.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