Traditional powers seek more crowns

Posted June 12, 2009, at 10:39 p.m.

Several traditional tennis powers will attempt to extend recent dynastic runs when the state interscholastic team tennis championships are held Saturday at Colby College in Waterville.

Competition on the 10-court Alfond-Wales outdoor tennis complex begins with the Class C finals at 9:15 a.m. featuring the Madawaska boys against Waynflete of Portland and the George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill girls against North Yarmouth Academy.

The Class B follow at 12:45 p.m. with the Ellsworth boys against Yarmouth and the Waterville girls facing Falmouth, while the Lewiston boys will play Windham and the Lewiston girls will battle Portland in the Class A matches at 4:15 p.m.

Five of the six defending champions are back: the Lewiston boys and girls in Class A, the Falmouth girls in Class B and the Waynflete boys and the North Yarmouth Academy girls in Class C.

In fact, labeling most of those teams as defending champions is doing an injustice to their recent dominance of their respective divisions.

The Lewiston boys have won six consecutive championships, the Lewiston girls three in a row. The Falmouth girls will be in search of their fourth state title in the last five years, as will the Waynflete boys, while the NYA girls will try to win a third consecutive crown.

Yet there are just as many match-tested challengers seeking to end those streaks — perhaps to launch extended championships of their own.

Class C: The Waynflete boys (15-0) have five of their top seven players back from a year ago, led by sophomore lefthander Brandon Thompson, who finished second in the recent state singles tournament, and second seed Devin Van Dyke, a two-time singles Round of 16 qualifier.

Eastern Maine champion Madawaska (13-2) is coming off a hard-fought 4-1 victory over George Stevens Academy in a regional final that included four three-set matches. Shawn Parker, Nathan Beaulieu and Chris Lizotte swept the singles for coach Ben Sirois’ Owls, while Jacques Daigle and Jamie Cyr play first doubles and Kyle Pelletier and Adam Lavertu are at second doubles.

Madawaska, which won three consecutive Eastern C titles between 1997 and 1999, is in search of its first state championship since 1999.

The NYA girls (14-1) whipped previously undefeated Winthrop 5-0 in its Western C final, and the Panthers return four players from its 2008 championship edition, including top-seeded singles players Thu-Trang Ho and Anna Jaeger.

Ho and first doubles player Eliza Gercke also are veterans of NYA’s 2007 title run, which was capped off by a 5-0 victory over George Stevens Academy.

GSA (12-3) also has two veterans back from that match in Katie Herklotz and Roz Brokaw, who teamed at second doubles in 2007 but now play second and third singles behind freshman Sotherd Steer.

Grace Jackson and Vesta Davis play first doubles this season for coach Tim Farrar’s club, while Tierney Hally and Hannah van der Eb are at second doubles for the Eagles, who edged Dexter 3-2 in the regional finals.

Class B: The Yarmouth boys, seeded fifth in Western Maine, upended three-time defending regional champion Falmouth 4-1 in its final. The Clippers (13-2) are led by senior Mike Hickey, who advanced to the state singles quarterfinals, with Ben Robinson and Lane O’Connor rounding out the singles contingent.

Undefeated Ellsworth (15-0) capped off its run to the program’s first regional title since 2002 with a 5-0 victory over top-seeded Presque Isle in the Eastern B final.

Coach Brian Higgins’ Eagles won all five matches in straight sets. Ellsworth is led by seniors Spencer Small and Nick Reese at first and second singles and junior Alexander Keefe at third singles. Freshmen Dylan Toothaker and Tyler Small are at first doubles, with senior Justin Harding and freshman Brandan Albee at second doubles.

A win by Ellsworth on Saturday would give the Eagles their first state championship since 1996.

The Falmouth girls (15-0) feature three singles players who all were seeded among the top eight in the state singles tournament in freshmen Annie Criscione and Analeise Kump and senior Hallsey Leighton.

The Yachtsmen also have both doubles teams back intact from a year ago in Melissa Keroack and Andie Daigle at first doubles and Emma Willery and Amanda Gallagher at second doubles.

Waterville (15-0) also is back in the state final for the third time in four years, with five players on the roster back from its most recent appearance, a 5-0 loss to Cape Elizabeth in 2007. Singles players Katherine Batten, Jen Nale and Alex McAuliff are all veterans of that match, as are doubles players Katie Jacobs and Kelsie Stevens.

Jacob now plays first doubles with Lexi Russo for coach Donna Nale’s Purple Panthers, while Stevens teams with Nikki Shanos at second doubles.

Falmouth and Waterville previously met in the 2006 state final, with Falmouth earning a 5-0 victory.

Class A: The Lewiston boys remained unbeaten at 15-0 with a 4-1 victory over Brunswick in Thursday’s Eastern Maine final. Coach Ron Chicoine’s club features the leadership of its only two seniors, Mike Butler and Ben McDonough at first and second singles.

Windham (15-0) is back in the state final for the first time since 2006, when Lewiston earned a 4-1 victory.

The Lewiston girls (15-0) handled Morse of Bath 5-0 in its regional final, as led by state singles semifinalist Chantalle Lavertu.

Portland (15-0) is in search of its first state championship in girls tennis after knocking off Gorham 4-1 in the Western A final.

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