Four city tennis teams made it to the regional finals and two, a very familiar two at that, took home state championships.
Waynflete’s dominance over Class C has been so consistent that it feels like the Flyers just take the court and get handed a trophy, but in truth, it’s not that simple. Every year, key players depart and competing in the toughest conference in the state prevents Waynflete from having a high seed in the playoffs, but once again, the Flyers overcame.
The last time the Waynflete boys didn’t win Class C, George W. Bush was still in the White House and LeBron James was in the process of losing decisively in the NBA Finals (as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers). It was 2007 and the Flyers have had no peer since.
This spring, Waynflete went 9-3, losing only to eventual Class A champion Falmouth once and Class B champion Cape Elizabeth twice. The Flyers earned the No. 5 seed in Western C and advanced to the regional final by blanking No. 4 Boothbay (5-0) and top-ranked Hall-Dale (5-0).
Last Thursday, at the Racquet and Fitness Center in Portland, Waynflete ousted No. 7 North Yarmouth Academy in the regional final, 5-0. The Panthers were short-handed as some foreign students who were part of the top seven had returned home.
Isaac Salas dropped just one game in handling Bryce Tetreault at first singles. Brandon Ameglio was a 6-3, 6-0 winner over Brad Potter at No. 2. Clancy Mitchell won his third singles match by default. Stephen Epstein and Peter Michalakes were 6-2, 6-0 first doubles winners over Hunter Mahoney and Griffin Cady and Jake Soley and Misha Linnhean won their second doubles match by default.
Saturday, the Flyers romped to another 5-0 victory in the state match, making it seven straight overall and five in a row over George Stevens Academy.
Salas beat Alex Heilner at first singles, 6-1, 6-0. Ameglio downed Tate Yoder at second singles by the same score. Mitchell did even better at third singles, winning, 6-0, 6-0, over Nate Boechat. Epstein and Michalakes were 6-2, 6-2 winners over Ed Lameyer and Luke Theoharidis at first doubles and Soley and Linnehan dropped their first set to Tim Dentino and Beowulf Urban, 1-6, then took the next two, 6-2, 7-5.
“We had some holes to plug due the graduation of three key starters, but fortunately, all the returning players came back in good form and we were able to add a talented frosh, Brandon, to the starting lineup,” said Waynflete coach Jeff Madore. “Tough losses to Cape and Falmouth sent the message that we needed to improve and the players’ commitment to improvement resulted in much stronger play by season’s end. Plus, it helps to have a top ranked New England player like Isaac as our number one player.”
The rest of Class C won’t have an opportunity to exhale in 2015, as the prospects for an eighth straight Flyers’ crown look very promising.
“Misha was our only senior, so we will bring back an experienced team for next season,” Madore said.
The girls managed to win a fourth straight crown, but that team had some holes to fill entering the season. After going 10-2 in the regular season (losing only to eventual Class A champion Falmouth and Class B winner Greely), the program’s best mark since 2010, the third-seeded Flyers ousted No. 6 NYA (4-1) and No. 7 Hall-Dale (5-0) to reach the Western C Final versus No. 4 Winthrop.
There, Emily White, Lexi Epstein and Allie Armstrong all won their singles matches in straight sets and Sophie Raffel and Nina Flight at first doubles and Annika Morrill and Liva Troiano at second doubles also rolled in two sets.
Saturday, Waynflete met undefeated Van Buren in the final and left no doubt.
White beat Parise Rossignol in a highly-anticipated first singles matchup, 7-5, 6-3. Lexi Epstein was a 6-2, 6-2 winner at No. 2 singles over Courtney Parent. Allie Armstrong downed Chantel Deveau, 6-0, 6-1 at third singles. Raffel and Flight were 6-2, 6-2 winners at first doubles over Felisha Bouchard and Jacinta Deschaine. Morrill and Troiano also won, 6-2, 6-2, over Isabel Parent and Alexis Ouellette at No. 2 doubles.
“It was a solid year,” said Flyers coach Linda Cohen. “A satisfying accomplishment. Replacing two starters from last year is always a challenge. I knew I had some potential coming in. I was thrilled to have Lexi step up in a big way as a freshman to have a 15-1 season. Liv joined the squad and provided a steady influence with junior Annika Morrill. So with four returning seniors, I knew I had a solid foundation to build on. Our schedule is challenging and definitely prepares the girls to handle anything once we enter the playoffs. Playing teams like Falmouth, Greely and Cape can toughen you up. The girls gained confidence with each passing match. When Emily was a freshman and we won the title, she wanted to know if we could do this every year while she was at Waynflete. I said that would be great. Here we are four years later and now I can definitely say, Yes, Emily, we can!”
The Flyers graduate four of their top seven, but Epstein, Morrill and Troiano return. Waynflete will make a serious run at another title.
Deering’s boys and Portland’s girls both dominated the Southwestern Maine Activities Association this spring, as each went 12-0 and earned the top seed in Western A, before rolling to easy wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Then, Thursday, reality set in when Falmouth, a longtime Class B power which moved up in class this spring due to increased enrollment, ended their seasons.
Deering thought it would have a puncher’s chance against the Yachtsmen, especially if their top singles player, Justin Brogan, couldn’t overcome a recent injury, but Brogan was able to play and Falmouth went on to a 5-0 victory.
Brogan beat Tyler Butler at No. 1 singles, 6-3, 6-1, ending Butler’s stellar high school career.
Isaac Finberg fell at second singles to Brendan McCarthy, the state’s individual champion, 0-6, 0-6, and Conor Doane lost, 1-6, 1-6, to Aidan McGrory at third singles.
The Rams’ first doubles tandem of Will Weeks and Jordan Roche lost the first set to Russell Barnard and Matt Hutcheon, 0-6, but bounced back to take the second set, 6-3, before losing the third, 2-6. Jason Thach and Kelvin Huynh at second doubles dropped a 3-6, 3-6 decision to Ben Aicher and Joe Lesniak.
“It’s disappointing, but we’re proud of being the best team in the conference” said Deering coach Regina Morton. “We just went up against too tough of an opponent. Tennis is Falmouth’s life. You can’t match that.”
Deering finished 14-1, its best mark since 2005.
“I’m so proud of these guys, they’ve worked hard,” Morton said. “What makes me most proud about this season is going in, we weren’t even predicted to be a top five team, for some reason, and we were.”
The Rams lose Butler and Roche, but should remain a top contender in 2015.
“The Butler legacy at Deering is gone,” Morton said, alluding to Tyler and his older brother, Jesse (Class of 2012). “We’ve had a Butler for six years. Tyler will be hard to replace, but we’ll still be strong. We’ve got some strong singles players. Particularly our freshman, Conor. He’s got nerves of steel. He plays like he’s twice his size. He’s taught us all how to deal with our nerves. The younger kids got some experience this year.”
Portland’s girls fell a point shy of a first ever state championship a year ago and might have gotten over the hump this spring, but Falmouth was simply too much.
The Bulldogs were competitive at doubles, where the No. 2 tandem of Hallie Repeta and Margaret Adham lost the first set to Amanda Watson and Mary Hyland, 5-7, before dropping the second, 0-6, and Alyssa Vaccaro and Georgia Drew lost at No. 1 doubles to Katie Ryan and Kate Kelley, 3-6, 0-6.
At second singles, Margot Andreasen dropped a 2-6, 1-6 decision to Julia Brogan. At No. 3 singles, unheralded senior Kayla Berg lost, 1-6, 1-6, to Caroline Ray. Senior Annette Denekas, at first singles, then closed out the match by falling to state singles champion, Olivia Leavitt, 0-6, 0-6.
“There’s nobody tougher than Falmouth,” said Portland coach Bonnie Moran. “We just wanted to come in and play hard and try to hang with them. We did that more or less. The girls played hard and didn’t give up. I just wanted them to have fun.
The Bulldogs finished 14-1.
“It was really a great season,” Moran said. “We didn’t have any problems at all during the regular season.”
Berg and Denekas depart from the singles trio and Adham (second doubles) also graduates, but Portland has established itself as the bet program in the SMAA and hopes to remain near the top again next spring.
“The seniors accomplished a lot and they matured a lot,” Moran said. “They got better and better. They were so supportive of the rest of the team. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of girls. I always play a lot of kids at doubles and keep them invested. There are a lot of girls who can fill in spaces. Singles will take a hit, but we have kids who will move up. They’ll get better and better.”
For the seventh year in a row, your Class C boys’ tennis state champions.
Brian Beard photo.
Coach Linda Cohen and the Waynflete girls’ tennis team poses with yet another piece of championship hardware, its fourth in succession.
Brian Beard photo.
Waynflete boys’ tennis captains Misha Linnehan (left) and Isaac Salas show off the Flyers’ seventh consecutive Class C championship trophy.
Waynflete girls’ tennis captains Emily White (left) and Sophie Raffel exult after clinching their fourth straight Class C championship.