LEWISTON — Bob Tom Flynn wasn’t at his physical best Tuesday, but the John Bapst of Bangor senior was strong enough to advance to the state high school tennis singles semifinals for the second straight year.
The second-seeded Flynn, who injured his back during a 6-0, 6-0 Round of 16 victory over Taylor Dimick of Falmouth earlier in the day, went on to outgun seventh-ranked Eric Hall of Lewiston 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals .
“I tweaked my back in the first match, I think on the last point,” said Flynn. “I took some Ibuprofen, and then I went out for this match and hit my serve and something went wrong. It hurt on ground strokes, my serve, everything.”
The injury left Flynn to underhand his second serve on some occasions, and also enabled Hall to run down more shots to extend points.
“I just needed to get the ball deeper, but when my back started to hurt I lost that ability to hit it deeper,” said Flynn, who remained undefeated this spring. “It affects you when you plant your feet for shots, it affects everything so I was sort just arming a lot of shots.
“It ended up working because I was able to run him side to side and angle him.”
Flynn will have three days to rehab the back, as he and the other top-four seeds on both the boys and girls sides advanced to Saturday’s semifinals, which begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Wallach Tennis Center on the campus of Bates College.
Flynn will meet third-seeded Justin Brogan, a freshman from Falmouth who advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 quarterfinal win over No. 6 Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy of Newcastle. The other boys semifinal pits top-seeded Patrick Ordway of Portland’s Waynflete School against No. 4 Matt Gilman of Cape Elizabeth.
Ordway defeated No. 8 Tyler Small of Ellsworth 6-0, 6-1 in the quarters, while Gilman ousted No. 5 Tyler Adams of Bonny Eagle of Standish 7-6 (9-7), 6-1.
The girls’ final four is led by top-seeded Maria Varano of Kennebunk, who topped No. 9 Mea Clark of MDI 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Also advancing to the semifinals were No. 2 Annie Criscione and No. 4 Analise Kump of Falmouth and No. 3 Maisie Silverman, a freshman from Brunswick.
Crisicone scored a 6-0, 6-1 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Addie Devine of Portland’s Catherine McAuley School. Kump topped No. 12 Frankie Lally of Edward Little of Auburn 6-2, 6-0 and Silverman defeated No. 6 Libby Voccola of Falmouth 6-3, 6-0.
Semifinal matchups will have Varano facing Kump and Criscione against Silverman.
One of the most competitive matches of Tuesday’s play came during the Round of 16 when Ellsworth’s Small outlasted No. 9 Adam Levesque of Topsham’s Mount Ararat School 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in a duel that lasted 2 hours, 52 minutes.
“It was a very tough match. He just didn’t miss, he’s a great player so I just tried to outlast him,” said Small, a junior who led the Ellsworth boys team to an undefeated regular season. “I just did the best I could.”
Neither player could establish command during the initial stages of the baseline battle before Small rallied from a deficit early in the third set to gain control.
“It was kind of like who had the last breath out there,” said Small. “I just told myself to pick it up and play my game, and I did.”
MDI’s Clark scored one of the few upsets of the day according to the seedingss, edging No. 8 Natalie Egbert of Gorham 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in the Round of 16.
Clark, a freshman, trailed 2-1 in the third set before running off the last five games of the match.
“I just kept my head and said, ‘I’m going to win the next point, the next point, the next point,’ and then just kept going,” she said.
That comeback advanced Clark to a quarterfinal against Varano, a junior who is playing high school tennis for the first time after focusing on junior tennis earlier in her career.
And while Clark lost the match, she was satisfied with her performance throughout the tournament.
“I was trying to just try to get to the Round of 48 this year,” she said. “That was my biggest goal, just to get here.”
Among other Eastern Maine girls in the Round of 16, No. 5 Jenna Selander of Caribou, a quarterfinalist a year ago, was upset by Lally 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Also reaching the Round of 16 were No. 11 Carissa English of Camden Hills of Rockport and unseeded Shashanna Moll of Belfast and Ashley Woodside of Hampden Academy.
Presque Isle’s Caleb Mathers reached the boys Round of 16 before dropping a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Ordway.