LEWISTON — All Patrick Ordway had to do to understand how it felt to be a state singles tennis champion before Saturday was ask his sister, Christine, winner of the schoolgirl crown in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Now the sophomore from the Waynflete School in Portland knows what it feels like from first-hand experience.
The top-seeded Ordway, who lost in the state title match a year ago, rallied from a first-set loss to outlast third-ranked Justin Brogan of Falmouth 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final played at the Wallach Tennis Center on the campus of Bates College.
“You can’t let a few mistakes pull you down,” said Ordway of his first-set travails. “You’ve just got to fight through it.”
Top-seeded Maria Varano, a junior from Kennebunk playing her first year of high school tennis after previously concentrating on the regional junior circuit, won the girls crown with a 6-2, 6-1 championship-match victory over Brunswick freshman Maisie Silverman.
“I feel like the mental part was the biggest part,” said Varano, “keeping positive and having good body language and staying strong in the head and playing one point at a time. That was definitely my game plan going into the whole tournament.”
Varano became the first Kennebunk player to win the girls crown since Kelly Graham in 2001, wearing down the third-seeded Silverman with an array of ground strokes.
Varano won the final four games of the first set, then built a 5-0 second-set advantage.
“I knew we had the same game, we both hit a flat but heavy ball,” said Varano, who is ranked ninth among New England 18-and-under players. “I knew I had to keep plenty of balls in the court and keep her on the run. My plan was to hit the corners, that was my plan the whole tournament.”
The boys final pitted the 6-foot-5 Ordway’s power game against the precision counterattacking of Brogan, and in the first set Brogan frustrated the charging Ordway with several passing shots.
So Ordway adjusted.
“My first serve wasn’t working that great for me in the first set,” he said, “so I thought I should tone it down a little and just try to get it in and see what happens from there, and it worked out.”
Ordway did get more of his first serves in during the second set and also became more consistent with his ground strokes, and he forced the lone service break of the set in the third game to force the first three-set boys state singles final since 2004.
Ordway jumped out to a 2-0 lead in that final set, but Brogan rallied with three straight games to take a 3-2 lead. Ordway then held serve to 3-3, then used some great defensive work on the first point of the next game en route to the decisive service break as he returned an overhead smash by Brogan that led to a winner down the line.
Ordway lost just one point while earning that service break, and did not lose another game.
“You could feel the momentum change, absolutely,” said Ordway, who became the second straight state champion from Waynflete after former teammate Brandon Thompson defeated him 6-3, 6-2 in last year’s final. “You’ve got to capitalize on that momentum.”
Brogan ended Eastern Maine’s hope for a state title with a 6-1, 6-2 semifinal victory over second-seeded Bob Tom Flynn, a senior from John Bapst of Bangor.
“You might look at the score and say it wasn’t a close match but it definitely was,” said Brogan. “There were a lot of deuce games that I was lucky to pull out, and a lot of close points that really could have gone either way.”
Flynn won the first game of each set but struggled to find consistency in his game.
“I was really excited to get to him because I knew he had made it to the semifinals last year,” said Brogan. “I knew I was going to have to play a really good match and hit a lot of balls because he hits a really good forehand and plays a power game.
“I tried to hit the ball deep and hit it into the open court because he likes to run around his backhand, and then when he gave me a short ball take advantage of it and come to the net.”
Ordway blitzed No. 4 Matt Gilman of Cape Elizabeth 6-0, 6-2 in his semifinal, using his serve-and-volley style to win the first nine games of the match against an opponent he split two matches with during the regular season.
Varano and Silverman each defeated a player from Falmouth in their semifinals, Varano topping No. 4 Analise Kump 6-2, 6-4 and Silverman besting No. 2 Annie Criscione 6-3, 7-5.