The city of Portland cleaned up nicely at Saturday’s state tennis championships in Waterville.
Two of the three local teams involved, the Waynflete boys and girls, took home hardware once again, while the McAuley girls came oh so close to doing the same.
Waynflete’s boys, the No. 5 seed, who advanced with 5-0 wins over No. 4 Hall-Dale, No. 9 North Yarmouth Academy and No. 2 Dirigo, won their fifth title in a row, seventh in eight years and ninth overall, downing George Stevens Academy, 5-0, in the title match, which was closer than the score indicated.
Both doubles teams and one singles player dropped their first match, making things interesting, but all rallied to win to help the Flyers complete the job.
Singles winners included Patrick Ordway (6-2, 6-1), Isaac Salas (6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-0) and Ben Shapiro (6-3 and 6-2). The first doubles tandem of Addison St. Onge-May and Owen Deady lost 2-6 in their first set before rallying for 6-1, 6-0 wins. The No. 2 squad of Jon Tao and Sam Martin also lost a first set, 2-6, but came back for 7-5, 7-5 triumphs.
“We got off to a slow start on Saturday in a match against a very athletic team,” said Flyers coach Jeff Madore. “We appeared nervous and were being reactive rather than proactive. Both doubles team lost their first set. First doubles only lost one game after that. Second doubles went down 0-5 in the second before making an epic comeback. The singles players recovered faster, but the first 30 minutes was gutwrenching for parents and the coach. Winning the match 5-0 seemed unlikely in the early going, proving once again it is who wins the last point, not the first that counts.”
Waynflete ended the season 13-3 and should be right back at the top again next spring.
The Waynflete girls went 7-5 in the regular year and came from the No. 6 seed to reach the final. The Flyers got to the state match by virtue of 5-0 victories over third-ranked Winthrop and No. 2 Dirigo and a 4-1 triumph over No. 1 Hall-Dale.
At states, Waynflete had just enough to edge George Stevens Academy, 3-2, to finish 11-5 for a second successive title and fifth total.
Wins came from Emily White at first singles (6-3, 6-1), Hilary Niles at No. 3 singles (6-0, 6-3) and second doubles team Abby Cough and Sophie Raffel (6-2, 6-1). No. 2 singles player Emily Trafton lost her match, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-10. No. 1 doubles team Phoebe Suva and Hanae Miyake fell, 6-2, 4-6, 0-6.
“Returning to defend our title from last year was wonderful,” said Flyers coach Linda Cohen. “The girls really worked hard as a team to reach that goal. The deck gets reshuffled each season as seniors graduate or transfer. We needed to replace the one and three singles players from last year, Kaitlyn Thompson and Maddie High, as well as one of the first doubles players, Elena Britos. Emily White accepted the role of one singles and gained experience and confidence as we moved through the season. Emily Trafton transitioned from second doubles the year before to second singles by putting a fantastic effort into her offseason improvement. Hilary also moved nicely from first doubles to third singles. The girls had great team chemistry which surfaced on several occasions. Each of them had a hand in clinching a team match.”
The Flyers graduate Miyake, Niles and Trafton, but return the type of talent that can make another title run.
“The first day of practice in 2013 will be interesting as we put all the pieces together for another exciting season,” Cohen said.
McAuley played for the Class A championship for the first time since 2007 and almost snared its first title since 2000. The Lions, the undefeated top seed in Western A, advanced with wins over No. 8 Sanford (5-0), fourth-ranked Scarborough, the reigning regional champion (3-2) and No. 3 Portland (3-2), but Brunswick had just a little too much Saturday.
McAuley got wins from No. 2 singles Devri Ramsey (6-3, 6-2) and third singles Ally Strawn (6-1, 6-4), as both girls finished the season undefeated, but Addie Devine fell at first singles (0-6, 1-6) to state singles champion Maisie Silverman and the first (Siobhan Kenneally and Katie Poulin, 5-7, 1-6) and second (Caitlyn Connolly and Kathleen O’Brien, 0-6, 2-6) doubles squads also dropped straight set decisions.
“First doubles was up 5-4 in the first set and had an opportunity,” said Lions coach Joe Kilmartin. “Sometimes athletes will prevail and they had more. My formula for winning all season (sweeping singles) was hurt by Silverman. Addie hung in with her. It wasn’t indicative in the score, but she played long games. Joanna Shin was halfway around the world with a family obligation. Kathleen had only played in a couple varsity matches all year.
“It was a nice season. We had great matches against Scarborough and Portland. I thought we could be this good. My goal is always to get to the Western Maine Final and you never know what can happen.”
McAuley graduates Devine, Poulin and Shin, but should be very strong again in 2013.
“We return quite a bit and have some JV players,” said Kilmartin. “The league again will be tough.”
The Deering boys and Portland girls made it to the regional final, but got no further.
The Rams, the top seed in Western A, were ousted by eventual state champion No. 2 Gorham, 3-2, to wind up 13-2, their best season since 2005. Singles standouts Jesse Butler (6-2, 6-2) and Noah Finberg (6-4, 7-5) earned the points in their swan songs.
“It was a frustrating loss for us because we knew what tactical strategies we would need to do to win, yet we were not able to execute those strategies in all matches that day,” said Deering coach Regina Morton. “We practiced for several days and executed strategies to perfection, yet on game day, we didn’t have our ‘A’ game and Gorham did. Overall, the players gave it their best efforts that day, but just fell a little bit short in the end.
“This was an amazing season overall, I have so much pride and admiration for my senior core of players, especially Noah Finberg and Jesse Butler, who gave their heart and soul to this team and really went above and beyond for their teammates this year. I wanted to win for them. They deserved it.”
The Rams will take some hits to graduation, but can’t be written off.
“We will have a young team and will need to work hard to build back up to the level that we were at this year,” Morton said. “However, I know that we have a group of very coachable kids next year who will be rewarded for being team players above all else. That is something that we have learned to value this season even beyond tennis ability.”
The Bulldogs girls, ranked third in Western A, downed No. 6 Windham, 4-1, then upset No. 2 Cheverus, 4-1, but in the regional final, Portland dropped a tough 3-2 decision to No. 1 McAuley to wind up 12-3. The Bulldogs had no peer in doubles this spring and Annette Denekas and Kayla Berg (6-2, 6-0) and Natalie Anderson and Nyaliep Deng (6-2, 7-6 (5) won their matches. Sophie Hulbert dropped a 1-6, 1-6 decision to Devine at first singles, Margot Andreasen lost, 1-6, 0-6 to Ramsey at No. 2 singles and Nguany Nguany fell, 3-6, 4-6 to Strawn at No. 3 singles.
“We had hope, but suspected it might turn out that way,” said Portland coach Bonnie Moran. “McAuley had three very strong singles players who were simply a lot more experienced than ours were.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the rest of the season went. Our semifinal win against Cheverus after losing to them in the regular season was a huge thrill. It shows what can sometimes be accomplished through sheer determination. What makes us the happiest is the vast improvement made by all our players and how much fun they all had. Winning is great, but our primary goal continues to be teaching the girls a sport that they can play for the rest of their lives. A lot of the credit goes to my assistant, J.C. Edelberg, who volunteers his time to work with our very large team. One result of that is our depth.”
Look out for the Bulldogs in 2013.
“Next year is looking good,” Moran said. “We are losing six valuable seniors, one singles and five doubles players, but we have a very strong young lineup right behind them. Such fun.”
Waynflete’s No. 1 singles standout Patrick Ordway had little trouble winning his first singles match.
Isaac Salas dropped his first set Saturday, but rallied to win his match.
Ben Shapiro was a straight set winner at third singles.
Hilary Niles was a straight set winner at third singles in the girls’ match.
Waynflete’s Hilary Niles (left) and Emily Trafton show off the Flyers’ latest hardware.
The two Waynflete tennis state championship teams celebrated as one Saturday.
Waynflete’s Emily White hits a backhand during Saturday’s Class C state match versus George Stevens Academy in Waterville. White won her match and the Flyers repeated as state champions.
Waynflete’s Owen Deady and Addison St. Onge-May celebrate after capturing their first doubles match. The Flyers beat George Stevens Academy, 5-0, to win Class C for the fifth time in succession.