WATERVILLE — One team’s dominance and another team’s determination yielded the same reward at Colby College on Wednesday — Eastern Maine Class C tennis titles.
The undefeated George Stevens Academy boys avenged a loss to Madawaska in last year’s final, besting the Owls 4-1 to earn their seventh regional crown in nine years.
The Dexter girls, playing in the EM final for the third straight season, scored three-set victories in all three singles matches to oust defending champion George Stevens 3-2 for their first regional title.
Both champs will return to Colby for Saturday’s 1 p.m. state finals.
Second-ranked Dexter (14-1) had six of its seven players back from the team that lost to GSA 3-2 in last year’s final, but it was top-ranked George Stevens (11-4) that got off to the fast start in the rematch, with only third seed Sarah Murray and the second doubles team of Alexis Mitchell and Emily Sevey winning the first set for the Tigers.
But while Murray struggled in her second set against GSA’s Tierney Hally, her singles teammates bounced back, with twins Chrissy and Cally Mountain each winning their second sets.
“At the end of my first set, Dad [Dexter coach Peter Murray] just told me not to worry about the rest of the games,” said Sarah Murray, “but then I kept looking down at the other matches, and when I saw Crissy and Cally were ahead in the second set I had the feeling we were going to pull it out. We weren’t going to lose here again.”
All but one of the matches went to a third set, the exception coming when GSA’s first doubles team of Caroline Altman and Hannah Van der Eb defeated Danielle Burton and Katie Eastman 6-3, 6-3.
But Crissy Mountain then closed out a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over GSA top seed Grace Jackson, and Cally Mountain followed with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Sotherd Steer at second singles to give Dexter a 2-1 lead.
“I just went out and thought, if we’re going to be Eastern Maine champs I’ve got to win this,” said Cally Mountain. “I knew I was making too many mistakes and I had to run her like she was running me, so I started placing the ball better than I did in the first set, and it worked.”
That left two matches to be decided, each lasting more than 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Murray got out to a strong start in her third set, while the second doubles match remained in limbo until GSA’s Vesta Davis and Maddie Theoharidis outlasted Mitchell and Sevey in a tiebreaker 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).
But by that time Murray had built a 4-1 third-set lead, and she went on to win the final two games of her baseline battle for a match-clinching 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory.
“Our expectation was that all five matches were going to be competitive, and it couldn’t have been much more competitive than it was today,” said coach Murray. “We were just going to have to maintain our focus through the entire match and play right to the final point, and that really came to fruition.”
The boys match lacked similar drama, as top-ranked George Stevens (15-0) scored four straight-set victories over No. 2 Madawaska (11-4) to improve its individual match record for the spring to 72-3.
“We knew they were going to be a really good team,” said GSA senior Michael Senter-Zapata. “We just came out here ready to play. We got focused on the bus and we came out ready to win.”
Third seed Max Reiter opened the scoring for GSA with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Matt Deschenes, but Madawaska senior Nathan Beaulieu then tied the match with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Johnny Xue at first singles.
The second doubles tandem of Liam Russell and Lucas Yoder restored GSA to the lead with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Aaron Thibeault and Greg Faucher, then Senter-Zapata clinched the Eagles’ victory with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Christian Lizotte.
GSA added its fourth win at first doubles, where Jasper Adam and Eric Kim topped Jamie Cyr and Jacques Daigle 6-3, 7-6 (7-0).
“There was a bit of uncertainty before the match because we didn’t play them this year,” said Reiter. “But we’re a different team this year. I think we’re better than we were last year, and last year it was very close so I thought this year we might have the edge.”