Confirming that some of the best tennis in the state is found in Forecaster Country, three local teams won state championships Saturday at Colby College in Waterville.
While Falmouth was repeating as the finest Class B girls’ team in the state and North Yarmouth Academy’s girls were winning a third successive crown in Class C, Yarmouth’s boys made history by capturing their first-ever Class B championship and their first in any class since 1996. Along the way, the Clippers eliminated rival Falmouth (the three-time defending regional champ) in the Western B Final.
Clippers reach the pinnacle
Yarmouth’s boys made it to the regional final a year ago and dropped a 3-2 decision to Falmouth. This year, the Clippers were viewed as the favorite and lived up to billing, but they had to come from the No. 5 seed to do. Yarmouth lost to Falmouth and eventual Class C champion Waynflete in a 10-2 regular season, but had no trouble with No. 4 Lisbon (5-0) or No. 8 York (5-0) in its first two playoff tests to earn a rematch with the Yachtsmen.
Falmouth was superb in its own right this year, going 10-2 (losing only to Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete) and earning the No. 3 seed. After rallying for a heartstopping 3-2 win over No. 6 Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals, the Yachtsmen advanced to the regional final with a 4-1 home win over No. 7 Greely.
Last Wednesday, at the Racket and Fitness Center in Portland, Yarmouth eliminated Falmouth, beating the Yachtsmen for the first time this decade, 4-1. Taylor Dimick and Ben Moody beat Chris Moylan and John Vicenzi at second singles, but the Clippers got a singles sweep from Mike Hickey, Ben Robinson and Lane O’Connor and a gritty three-set win from first doubles tandem Teddy Roche and Eli Pitegoff to advance.
“I hadn’t beaten Falmouth in the 11 years I’ve coached,” said Yarmouth coach Mark Marstaller. “Ben had the tough match. He figured out how to win. I’m here on the strength of my singles. I felt we were deeper and had better singles players. Last year, we had a goal of making the Western Maine Finals. This year, our goal was to win states. Last year, we didn’t realize how close we got to beating Falmouth until it was over. That experience helped us this year. I had the same kids essentially. We wanted to go further and we have.”
The Yachtsmen finished 12-3.
“No regrets at all,” said McCully. “We improved steadily through the season. It was a very, very good season. It was really a nice group of kids. They were a pleasure to work with. All the credit to Yarmouth, they’re a very good team. I think we’re the next best team.”
Rest assured that Falmouth will be right back in the mix next year.
“I lost four seniors: Jack Wyman, Ben and Chris Moody and Jack Coster,” said McCully. “We have sophomores who played a lot of matches this season. We’ll be very respectable and competitive again next year.”
Yarmouth then traveled north to make history against Ellsworth in the state match. The Clippers again won by a 4-1 margin as Hickey won 6-4, 6-0 at first singles, Robinson was a 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 victor at No. 2 singles and both doubles teams rolled to straight set victories.
Yarmouth finished 14-2 and earned some long-awaited hardware.
“This is very exciting,” Marstaller said. “I have high-quality kids and high-quality tennis players. They came through. For me, it’s huge. I don’t think the kids realize yet how big it is. Falmouth, Cape, Greely and Yarmouth are always going to have strong teams. Now we know we can be up there with Cape and Falmouth, who year in and year out were ahead of us.”
Falmouth and NYA’s girls met little opposition in their runs to glory.
In Class B, the Yachtsmen were almost untouchable this year, surrendering two points just once (a 3-2 win at Waynflete) in going 12-0. Falmouth, the top seed, then blanked No. 9 York, No. 4 Cape Elizabeth and No. 2 Oak Hill in the regional playoffs. Saturday, the Yachtsmen met Waterville in Waterville, but had no trouble. Annie Criscione, Hallsey Leighton and Analise Kump all won easily at singles, while Andie Doyle and Melissa Keroack were 6-3, 6-1 winners at first doubles and Emma Wilberg and Amanda Gallagher cruised 6-1 and 6-4 at No. 2 doubles to account for a decisive 5-0 victory.
“The girls were impressive,” said Falmouth coach Sandra Stone. “I was proud of them. They knew they had to come in here and not worry about what comes next. I didn’t know a lot about (Waterville). I felt we were strong. When you come in with the type of singles players I have and two doubles teams that faced off two years in a row in the Western Maine Conference finals, we’re strong and skilled and confident. We’ve had a good team camaraderie. We were ready. I felt good and confident that we’d get the job done.”
In Class C, NYA was almost as dominant, losing only to Falmouth (5-0 at home May 11) during an 11-1 regular season which gave the Panthers the No. 2 seed for the tournament. After disposing of No. 7 St. Dom’s (4-1), No. 3 Boothbay (5-0) and No. 1 Winthrop (5-0), NYA met George Stevens Academy for the second time in three years in the state match (NYA won 5-0 two years ago).
Saturday, the Panthers rolled to a 5-0 win again. Thu-Trang Ho won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, Anna Jaeger was a 6-1, 6-0 victor at No. 2 singles and Sarah Jordan cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory at third singles. Emily Mitchell and Hillary Keach were 6-1, 6-0 winners at No. 2 doubles. Only the first doubles team of Eliza Gercke and Cayla Marvil was tested, but after dropping the first set 4-6, they won 6-1, 6-3 to finish it up.
“It was very exciting.,” said NYA coach Lorena Coffin. “We expected a little more of a challenging match. Our second doubles players were nervous the first set, then they turned it around. I was very surprised with singles. They had nice hitters. Our girls just hit strong and deep and were very focused. We were all business and finished strong.”
While the Panthers wound up 15-1 and with another title, there was uncertainty earlier in the year.
“I knew coming in that we lost first doubles from last year, but I thought we were in good shape, then we lost Claire Verville and Eliza decided to play left-handed,” Coffin said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we had the singles, but I was unsure about doubles. It turned out to be a very exciting year.
NYA will look to do it again next spring and has to like its chances with all three singles players coming back.
“I’m losing Eliza, Cayla and Hillary, but four of our top seven return,” Coffin said. “I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Yarmouth Academy’s girls’ tennis team showed off its hardware after winning the Class C state championship for a second straight year Saturday.