DOVER-FOXCROFT — It’s been quite a spring for athletics at Foxcroft Academy.
Not only did the school have the state’s only remaining undefeated baseball team heading into Tuesday’s games, but the Ponies also will have unbeaten boys and girls tennis teams entering postseason play later this week.
The Foxcroft girls (12-0) finished second in Eastern Maine Class C, trailing only perennial power George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, while the Foxcroft boys (12-0) are ranked fourth and will host No. 5 Stearns of Millinocket in a quarterfinal Friday.
It’s an unbeaten status that’s somewhat surprising given that the Ponies haven’t been a traditional power in the sport. The boys team last reached the regional semfinals in 2001 and its only appearance in an EM final was in 1992. The girls’ squad has yet to advance to the EM title match though it did advance to the semifinals a year ago.
“We tend to have a lot of two- or three-sport athletes on the team,” said Ryan Dankert, now in his 11th year as the head coach of both Foxcroft teams. “I take what I have and we do the best we can because tennis is not the No. 1 sport for most of the kids who play.”
The Foxcroft girls will play a regional quarterfinal Friday at home against the winner of Wednesday’s preliminary-round match between No. 7 Sumner of East Sullivan and No. 10 Lee Academy.
“We lost a couple of strong girls from last year,” said senior Lindsey Kousaie, the team’s No. 1 singles player. “But the other two girls who are playing singles this year [Jen Seavey and Emma Malay] and our doubles teams have been playing well.”
Kousaie became Foxcroft’s top singles player as a junior but got off to a slow start, losing five of her first six matches at No. 1. But she regrouped to win her last six matches last year, and has gone 11-1 this year as well as advancing to the state singles Round of 32.
“As the season goes along Lindsey gets stronger,” said Dankert. “Even though she plays a little tennis during the winter, it takes her some time to shake the rust off, and she plays her best tennis at the end of the year.”
Seniors Seavey and Malay were the team’s first doubles tandem a year ago but have been solid as the No. 2 and 3 singles players this spring.
Foxcroft also has gotten a lift from the first doubles tandem of senior Katie Thompson and junior Suzey Chen.
“Those four players are pretty much interchangeable,” said Dankert.
Senior Summer Lian, a first-year player, and sophomore Kate Morrison play second doubles for the Ponies.
While the girls squad is senior laden, Foxcroft’s boys team is sporting a different look from a year ago. That effort is led by junior Colby Bombero, who has moved up from third singles to the No. 1 slot this spring
“We had a lot of seniors last year, so this was more of a building year, I thought,” said Bombero. “But it turned out we did well.”
Juniors Jiayang Lu and Stephen Sharrow play second and third singles for the Ponies, with junior Hyuk Woo Choi and freshman Sam Keane at first doubles.
Several players have seen duty at second doubles, but two — Joshua Bombero and Atticus Dennis — have an academic conflict Friday and won’t be available for the quarterfinals. Henry Lu is likely to be one-half of the pairing against Stearns, with his partner yet to be selected.
Of the 11 players on the Foxcroft boys roster, 10 will be back next year.
“A lot of young players stepped up and contributed,” Colby Bombero said. “A lot of guys who didn’t play much last year worked during the off-season and got better.”
Neither Foxcroft team faced the more traditional Eastern C powers such as George Stevens and Orono during the regular season, leaving it as somewhat of a mystery entry into postseason play.
But the Ponies merely see such mystery as opportunity.
“I don’t think too much about it except to say the sky’s the limit,” Dankert said. “I tell the players that it’s really up to them how far we go.”