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Two city tennis teams made the trip to Colby College in Waterville Saturday hoping to bring home a state championship.
One, the Waynflete boys, captured a second straight Class C crown (as expected), edging Madawaska in a closer-than-expected 3-2 match.
The other, the Portland girls, fell short, losing 4-1 to perennial champion Lewiston, but the Bulldogs’ setback did nothing to detract from what was simply a fairy tale season.
Get used to this
Entering the 2009 campaign, Waynflete had won five of eight Class C titles, including three of the past four. The Flyers were heavy favorites entering this year and did nothing to disappoint, cruising to a 12-0 record in which they were only seriously tested once, a 3-2 triumph at Falmouth May 1.
Waynflete earned the top seed for the regional playoffs and promptly dispatched No. 8 St. Dom’s 4-1, No. 5 Georges Valley 5-0 and No. 2 Monmouth 5-0 to set up a first-ever state match showdown with the Owls.
The Flyers took care of business at first and second singles as sophomore Brandon Thompson ousted Shawn Parker 6-1, 6-2 and junior Devin Van Dyke had little trouble with Nathan Beaulieu in a 6-0, 6-2 decision.
Madawaska earned points at third singles (Chris Lizotte downed junior Ross Cummings in a three-set thriller, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) and at second doubles where Kyle Pelletier and Adam Lavertu were 6-3, 6-4 winners over junior Chris Gillespie and sophomore Henry Jorgensen.
Ultimately, Waynflete was able to repeat when its No. 1 doubles tandem, sophomore Eric Ordway and junior Sam Cleaves, held off Jacques Daigle and Jamie Cyr by a 6-1, 6-7 (2), 7-5 margin.
“It was a tough go,” said Flyers coach Jeff Madore. “Madawaska had good athletes. They were very skilled. We won easily at No. 1 and 2 singles. That wasn’t a surprise. Ross lost once all year at third singles. I knew it would be a tossup. We were in the hunt at second doubles. (Junior) Nate Niles had a previous commitment to ski in Norway so Chris played for the first time all year. First doubles was able to pull it out, but it was really close. The kids rose to the occasion. I’m very proud of the guys.”
Considering this team graduated no one and that another member of the talented Ordway family will be joining the ranks next school year, Waynflete figures to be even heavier favorites in 2010 and beyond.
“Our challenge next year will be finding room for everyone,” Madore said. “It’s a nice problem to have.”
Portland’s girls’ program has been competitive in recent years, but prior to 2009, the Bulldogs had never won more than 10 games in a season or advanced past the semifinals.
After last year’s close loss to Deering in the regional semis, Portland came into this spring believing it could go a long way.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a magical regular season, beating all 12 opponents to earn the top seed. Portland then eliminated No. 8 South Portland 5-0 and No. 5 McAuley 4-1 to reach the regional final for the first time.
Last Wednesday, at the Racket and Fitness Center in Portland, the Bulldogs met No. 2 Gorham, a team they beat 3-2 back on May 4.
The rematch would be close, but again Portland had the answers.
Seniors Audrey Seiz and Greer Chapman rolled to a straight-set win at second doubles. Juniors Corey Carmichael and Maggie Eismeier did the same at first doubles (although both sets went to a tiebreaker) and juniors Maggie Swann and Liza Iselborn were straight-set winners at first and third singles, respectively. Junior Mary Moran fell at second singles, but the Bulldogs had their first regional crown, 4-1.
“This was so exciting,” said Portland coach Bonnie Moran. “I’m so happy for the girls. They wanted it so badly. I knew any individual match could have gone either way. I was confident. I would have been happy to win 3-2, but 4-1 makes me delirious. I’m so happy for Maggie. She did her thing again. She lost to her the first time.”
As a reward, the Bulldogs drew undefeated, three-time state champion Lewiston in the state match Saturday.
Portland put up a fight, getting a win from Seiz and Chapman at second singles (6-4, 6-2), but that would be the only point the Bulldogs could muster. Swann, Moran and Iselborn, along with Eismeier and Carmichael, went down in straight-sets and the Bulldogs’ finest season ever ended at 15-1.
“We’re happy to win a match,” Moran said. “(Lewiston’s) so good. They’re good every year.”
Portland won’t soon forget the year that all future campaigns will be measured against and with five of the top seven returning, don’t think we’ve heard the last of the Bulldogs.
“It’s been an amazing year,” Moran said. “It’s been unbelievable. I told them all along there was a banner on the line. There wasn’t one in the Expo for tennis. We got one.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.
Waynflete’s first singles standout Brandon Thompson capped his superb campaign Saturday by leading the Flyers to a second straight title.
Sam Cleaves, along with teammate Eric Ordway, held on for a three-set win at first doubles, providing the pivotal third point of the match.
Waynflete standout Devin Van Dyke showed his championship-winning form Saturday as he helped the Flyers repeat as Class C state champions.