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It’s been business as usual for tennis teams from the city of Portland.
The Western A and C Finals featured many familiar names and it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest that four city teams will be playing in the final match of the season Saturday at the state finals at Colby College in Waterville.
On the Western A boys’ side, top-ranked Deering advanced with wins over No. 9 Thornton Academy (5-0) and fourth-ranked Windham (3-2) and improved to 13-1. The Rams continued their magical season Monday against the Eagles in the semifinals even though that match was postponed two days and moved to the Racket and Fitness Center. There, senior captains Jesse Butler and Noah Finberg continued to excel by winning at first and second singles, respectively, and the second doubles tandem of Jamie Gullbrand and Antonio Macomber also triumphed.
“I’m really proud of everyone giving 100 percent,” said Finberg. “Windham’s a great team. I’m glad we pulled it out. We’ve won the matches we’ve had to win.”
“At this point, there are no upsets, just good teams playing it out,” said Butler. “We knew from the first point to the last point, it would be a battle today.”
“We knew it would be a tough battle today,” added Deering coach Regina Morton. “We had to adjust our lineup and (the days off) gave us a little extra time to work on things. Everyone worked hard in the offseason. The seniors, especially Jesse and Noah, have taken on getting people practicing. I think that’s made a difference. We have such a bond. That’s made a difference. “
In the regional final Wednesday, the Rams met No. 2 Gorham (13-1). Deering was a 3-2 winner at Gorham back on April 30. The teams last met in the postseason in the 2006 quarterfinals (a 3-2 Gorham win).
“Gorham’s a really strong team,” Finberg said. “One through seven they’re great. We look forward to battling it out with them. Hopefully it goes our way, but it’ll be a tough one.”
“It’ll be fun,” Butler said. “We know they have a really strong team. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a really tight battle.”
“I expect it to be a battle again,” Morton added. “We’ll have to work hard to find three points.
If Deering makes it to Saturday’s state match, it will likely have to defeat perennial championship contender Lewiston.
Elsewhere in Western A, Cheverus, ranked seventh, beat No. 10 Marshwood, 4-1, in a preliminary round last week, but was eliminated and finished 8-6 after a 5-0 loss at Gorham in the quarterfinals.
Portland’s boys, ranked sixth, lost, 4-1, to No. 3 Scarborough in the quarterfinals to finish 8-5.
The Western A girls’ regional final Wednesday featured top-ranked McAuley (14-0) taking on No. 3 Portland (12-2).
The Lions advanced with wins over No. 8 Sanford (5-0) and fourth-ranked Scarborough, the reigning regional champion (3-2).
The Bulldogs handled No. 6 Windham 4-1 in the quarterfinals, then avenged one of their two regular season losses with a 4-1 upset victory over No. 2 Cheverus in Saturday’s semifinals. The Stags, who had defeated No. 7 Marshwood (5-0) in the quarterfinals, finished another solid year at 12-2.
“We had a great win against Cheverus,” said Portland coach Bonnie Moran. “It started out as a possible disaster. We were sent in error to (Racket and Fitness Club) when the match was actually at (Foreside Fitness and Tennis). A couple of our players got lost trying to find it and ended up with less warmup time. We were also missing one of our first doubles players, Annette Denekas, who was attending a funeral out of state, so we had to change our doubles, but we have the depth to sustain that (Lily Bruenjes and Ellen Jewett pulled out a three-set decision at second doubles).
“(No. 1 singles) Sophie Hulbert (who rallied to beat Maria Cianchette, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4) and (second singles) Margot Andreasen (a 7-6 (5), 6-2 winner over Abbey Harrison) defeated their respective opponents. They both lost in the regular season, but were so determined to win, adapted their game plans and played the best tennis I’ve seen them play. Gutsy. It couldn’t have been more exciting.”
McAuley eked out a 3-2 win over Portland on May 18. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2009 semifinals (a 4-1 Bulldogs’ triumph).
Wednesday’s winner will meet either Brunswick or Lewiston in the state final match.
In Western C, both Waynflete teams are seeking to defend state titles and both were two wins from doing so at press time.
The boys’ team, ranked fifth, advanced by virtue of 5-0 wins over No. 4 Hall-Dale and No. 9 North Yarmouth Academy. The Flyers (11-3) played No. 2 Dirigo (12-2) in the regional final. The teams don’t square off in the regular season. The most recent playoff encounter came in the 2007 semifinals (a 3-2 Cougars triumph, which was the last time Waynflete lost in the postseason).
If the Flyers advance to Saturday’s state meet, George Stevens Academy or Madawaska will be waiting.
The Waynflete girls, seeded sixth, enjoyed 5-0 wins at No. 3 Winthrop and second-ranked Dirigo to set up a regional final meeting with top-ranked Hall-Dale. The teams don’t play in the regular season. The Flyers beat Hall-Dale, 4-1, in last year’s quarterfinals.
If Waynflete can make it back to the state final, it will see GSA or Van Buren.