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Cape Elizabeth returns to tennis pinnacle

Sports

Cape Elizabeth returns to tennis pinnacle

All is right again with the boys' tennis world.

The Cape Elizabeth Capers are back on top.

Last week, the Capers completed an undefeated and dominant campaign with their 14th state title.

Cape Elizabeth, which went 12-0 in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in Western Class B, registered its biggest win in the semifinals, eliminating two-time defending champion Falmouth, then had to dispatch No. 8 York in the regional final last Wednesday and did so with ease, 5-0.

Matt Gilman swept his first singles match and didn't surrender a game. Peter Higgins and Satchel McCarthy were also straight set singles winners, while Mike Mills and Sam Sherman at first doubles and Eli Breed and Luke Gilman at No. 2 doubles swept their way to victory.

That sent the Capers to Hampden for the state match Saturday against previously undefeated Mt. Desert Island. The match was originally scheduled to be played outdoors at the University of Maine in Orono, but had to move due to poor weather conditions.

It wouldn't have mattered if they played it on the moon as clearly, Cape Elizabeth had no peer and Matt Gilman (6-0, 6-2), Higgins (6-2, 6-0) and McCarthy (6-0, 6-2) rolled through their singles matches and Mills and Sherman (6-1, 6-0) and Breed and Luke Gilman (6-2, 6-2) also prevailed in straight sets to give the Capers a 5-0 win and a 16-0 season.

"Obviously, the biggest match was Falmouth," said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Andy Strout, who now has 24 state titles with the school (also winning 10 with the girls). "We knew what York would bring. It helped not knowing what MDI had, so we could stay focused on the task at hand of winning a state championship.

"It was a special year. We had great leadership from the seniors. I'm especially happy for them, as they won it as freshmen in 2010, then lost to Falmouth two straight years in the regional final. They finally got it back. The kids really believed in the team concept. We had kids playing doubles who would have been singles players on many teams. Luke Gilman at second doubles was our third singles player last year. Mike Mills, a freshman, would have been seeded in the top eighth in the state singles tournament, but because of our depth, he played first doubles. They were very mature kids and the played for that team championship."

The Capers lose their share of talent to graduation, but don't write them off in 2014.

"We lose the leadership and depth, but many of the guys got varsity experience," Strout said. "With Mike Mills, Luke Gilman ad Eli Breed back, we have a very good trio of singles players and many waiting in the wings to challenge for those doubles positions."

The Cape Elizabeth girls, ranked second, did make it to the regional final, but had no answers for No. 1 Falmouth, falling, 5-0. The closest match came at second doubles where Elle Richards and Emily Tall made Caroline Ray and Riley Burfeind work before falling, 5-7, 3-6. The Yachstmen went on to win their sixth straight championship and stretch their match win streak to 93, while the Capers' season ended at 12-3.

In Western A, Scarborough's girls got to the regional final before losing, 4-1, to No. 1 Portland. The second-ranked Red Storm finished the season 13-2. Scarborough's point came from its first doubles team of Maria Philbrick and Katie Wahrer. Carly Hughes and Grace Whelan, at second doubles, lost in three sets.

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