Entering this year, Scarborough had never played for a team tennis state championship.
Saturday, both Red Storm squads will take the court at Colby College looking to do that very thing.
That’s because both teams navigated a challenging field and emerged as the best in the West with regional final victories Wednesday morning at Bates College in Lewiston.
The fourth-ranked girls, who prior to 2011 had never even advanced to the regional final, completed a stirring run with a 4-1 win over No. 3 Gorham. Scarborough first eliminated No. 5 Portland, 3-2, then upset previously undefeated Cheverus, the top seed, in a 4-1 marathon Monday afternoon. That match was up for grabs until junior Fernanda Balboni eked out a three-set win at second singles and senior Jenna Posey followed suit with a three-set victory at No. 1 singles.
Wednesday, the Red Storm improved to 12-3 by sweeping doubles and winning at second and third singles as well.
“We got out early and won the first set of the first four matches and cruised,” said Scarborough coach Lincoln MacIsaac. “We won nine of 10 sets. The girls stepped up and wanted it. I’m proud to be around them. Winning the match at Cheverus was big for us. It’s huge for the program. We’ve built for this for four years. These girls want to play for the team.”
The Red Storm will do battle with perennial power Lewiston (13-2) in Saturday’s state final at 10 a.m.
“We’ll be in the underdog role and we’ll have our work cut out, but it’s nice to play with house money,” said MacIsaac. “Lewiston is a great program, but teams can’t overlook our athleticism and our will to win.”
The Scarborough boys, who have loudly banged on the championship door in recent years, falling in the regional final each of the past three springs, finally broke through Wednesday.
The second-ranked Red Storm, who went 11-1 in the regular season, losing only to Kennebunk in the finale, 3-2, held off seventh-ranked Gorham, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, then blanked No. 6 Deering, 5-0, in the semis. Wednesday, Scarborough turned the tables on Kennebunk, edging the Rams, 3-2.
“We finally got the monkey off our backs,” said coach Craig MacDonald. “It feels good. We took the same bus home as the girls. It was a good ride. Second doubles was the difference. They won in two sets. They had five or six match points, then finally finished it. (First singles) Alex Henny won his first set, was up 5-3 in the second and after Kennebunk’s No. 1 won two games to take momentum, Alex won the next two games to clinch it.”
The Red Storm will meet eight-time regional champion Lewiston (15-0) in Saturday’s state match. The Blue Devils’ seven-year reign as state champ was ended by Windham last spring and Scarborough will be in for a struggle, but is up for the challenge.
“Lewiston’s senior-heavy,” said MacDonald. “They’re always in the finals. It’s our first time. We have nothing to lose. This year’s team might not be as talented as the last couple years, but we have good chemistry.”
South Portland’s girls were the No. 8 seed in Western A and gave top-ranked Cheverus a scare in the quarterfinals before losing, 3-2, to finish 5-8.
Cape Elizabeth, the fifth seed in Western B, won, 3-2, at No. 4 Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals before falling victim to eventual regional champion Falmouth, 5-0, in the semifinals. The Capers finished the year 8-6.
On the boys’ side, defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, ranked second behind Falmouth, beat No. 7 Fryeburg (5-0) and No. 3 Lincoln (4-1) to reach the regional final, where the Capers, lost, 3-2, to Falmouth Wednesday, in a match that came down to first singles before being decided, to finish 13-2.
Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Gilman reached the semifinals of the singles tournament before losing to eventual champion Patrick Ordway of Waynflete, 0-6, 2-6.