It wasn’t easy, but for the first time since 2006, both Waynflete tennis teams sit atop Class C.
Saturday afternoon, at Colby College in Waterville, the Flyers boys managed to win their fourth championship in a row, but it took a highwire act to do so, in a 3-2 win over George Stevens Academy.
The girls, who rose from the eighth and final seed in their region, capped their Cinderella run with a 4-1 victory over GSA.
Waynflete’s boys entered the season as three-time champion, riding a 46-match win streak. That string ended in the opener, a 5-0 loss to defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth. The Flyers, who graduated five players from the 2010 champion and lost standout Brandon Thompson, who chose to run track, went 7-5 in the regular season, falling twice to the Capers and eventual Class B champion Falmouth and once to York. As the No. 5 seed, Waynflete had to get the job done on the road in the postseason and did so with wins at No. 4 St. Dom’s (5-0), top-ranked Winthrop (3-2) and No. 3 Hall-Dale (5-0), in a match played on a neutral court in Lewiston.
Saturday, the Flyers got wins at second singles (Sam Martin and Jonathan Tao, 6-2, 6-3) and first singles, where state singles champion Patrick Ordway rolled, 6-3, 6-1. Georges Stevens Academy (which finished 13-3) got victories at second singles and second doubles and the match came down to Shapiro and Alexander Heilner.
Shapiro led in the first set, but ultimately lost, 5-7. He rallied to take set number two, 6-3, but in the decisive set, Shapiro trailed early, 1-3, and was down 4-5 and served down love-40 with the championship on the verge of slipping away.
Shapiro would save his best for last, saving those match points before ultimately winning the game and the next. Then, looking to close it out, Shapiro twice put Heilner on the brink only to see his counterpart answer. Then, finally, Shapiro closed it out and won, 7-5, giving Waynflete a 3-2 triumph.
“It was a very interesting and dramatic day,” said Flyers coach Jeff Madore. “Full of emotion. It was a very close one. We felt awful for (Heilner) when it was over.
“We came back with just two starters this year and a backup doubles player. The kids worked hard. We tried to do the best we could.”
Waynflete will go for a fifth successive crown in 2012 and with only Eric Ordway graduating, has to like its chances.
“George Stevens also has most of their players back, so if we’re fortunate to make it that far, it’ll be another tough battle,” said Madore.
Girls’ coach Linda Cohen described the Flyers’ championship as the end of a journey as they ended North Yarmouth Academy’s four-year reign.
Waynflete started the year 1-2, but turned things around and wound up 8-4, losing only to NYA, eventual champion Falmouth and top Western B contenders Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth. The Flyers wound up with the eighth and final seed in Western C, but had no trouble with No. 1 Hall-Dale (5-0), or No. 4 Dirigo (5-0). Waynflete then got a big break when NYA, playing without three suspended players, was upset by Winthrop, the No. 6 seed, in the other semifinal. Waynflete beat Winthrop, 3-2, in the regional final to reach states for the first time since 2006.
There, the Flyers took care of business. All three singles players triumphed, as sophomore Kaitlyn Thompson won at No. 1 (6-1, 6-1), freshman Emily White at No. 2 (6-3, 6-4) and senior Maddie High at No. 3 (6-3, 6-3). The first doubles team of senior Elena Britos and junior Hilary Niles also won in straight sets, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
“It was very much a wonderful four-year journey to this point,” said Cohen. “Every year we got one step closer. This team had exceptionally good chemistry. Kaitlyn had a very good season with maturity and taking the next step. Maddie was with me all four years. We had new blood this year with Emily at second singles and Hilary, who came from crew.”
Waynflete loses Britos and High and will look to win it all again next spring.
“We have good depth and returners,” said Cohen. We’ll try to get the best out of them.”
Waynflete sophomore Ben Shapiro, long before his clutch performance at the end of the match, shows his form in getting off a shot.
Waynflete sophomore Kaitlyn Thompson calmly returns a shot during her victory Saturday.
Waynflete sophomore Patrick Ordway fires a backhand during his win at first singles Saturday. Ordway, who won the individual championship the week before, added another team title to his resume.
Ben Shapiro is mobbed by his teammates after his dramatic victory gave Waynflete another championship.
In a most familiar sight, Waynflete’s boys’ tennis team stood alone in Class C once again Saturday.
The new champions admire their new hardware.
The Waynflete girls’ team celebrated its first championship since 2006.
Waynflete sophomore Ben Shapiro exults late in his decisive match Saturday. Shapiro fought off three match points and won his match to give the Flyers their fourth successive Class C state championship.
More photos below.