BREWER — The Hampden Academy tennis program is looking forward to having a brand new six-court complex to call home by the time construction of its new school is completed in the fall of 2012.
In the meantime, the Broncos are making the best of limited facilities.
Two intown courts currently serve the school’s two varsity squads and two junior varsity teams while the construction project is under way, with each team getting a little more than an hour of practice on days when they’re not playing matches at various locales around the area.
“There’s not a lot of practice time,” admitted Hampden girls varsity tennis coach Rich Nutter.
But who needs practice?
The second-seeded Hampden boys varsity squad will take an undefeated record into Monday’s Eastern Maine Class A semifinal against Bangor to be played at Hermon High School.
And the third-ranked Broncos’ girls squad improved its record to 12-1 on Friday with a 4-1 victory over No. 6 Bangor in a regional quarterfinal played at Brewer High School.
“I thought my team played really well today because I know how much they wanted to win against Bangor,” said Hampden top seed Ashley Woodside. “I really appreciated that everyone had positive thinking in their matches.”
The win advances Hampden to a semifinal Monday at No. 2 Lewiston, the five-time defending Class A state champion.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge because when you play better competition it’s going to make you better,” said Nutter.
Bangor, with six seniors among its top seven players, ended its season with a 6-7 record.
Hampden defeated Bangor twice during the regular season by identical 3-2 scores, and the Broncos got off to a fast start in their postseason meeting by winning the first set in all of the matches that started simultaneously at the four-court facility.
Hampden’s first doubles team of juniors Emily Gower and Katie Harris put the Broncos ahead with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Bangor’s Sarah Chadbourne and Megan Bolduc.
Sara Ellen Glidden then gave Hampden a 2-0 lead, fighting off a second-set rally by Bangor’s Caroline Hettermann to earn a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Glidden jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set, only to have Hettermann win four straight games before the Hampden junior put the match away.
Bangor earned its only point at second doubles, with Libby Sturgeon and Abby Lebowitz rallying from a first-set loss to outlast Logan Huston and Elena Cravens 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Woodside scored the clinching point for Hampden despite starting about an hour after the rest of the matches began, outgunning Anne Szewczyk 6-0, 6-0.
“I played really well today, I thought,” said Woodside. “I kept moving a lot and kept placing my shots a lot, and I tried to stay calm at all times.”
Woodside, a freshman, played in the state singles Round of 16 earlier this week.
“Ashley’s got the same kind of ground strokes that a lot of the good players have, but she also comes to the net more than most of the other girls do,” said Nutter. “We’re really working on her serve-and-volley game, and she’s got a great overhead, she’s very athletic and she’s very, very quick.
“You put that all together and she’s got the potential to do pretty much what she wants to do.”
Hampden third seed Rachel Henderson, who along with Cravens are the only seniors in the Broncos’ lineup, survived the longest match the day, edging Yumiko Inoaka 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in a baseline battle that lasted nearly 2 hours, 45 minutes.