WATERVILLE, Maine — For Ben Shapiro and Alexander Heilner, the individual sport of tennis gave way to the team concept in the ultimate way Saturday, as the two third-seeded singles players battled through a third set at Colby College to determine the Class C boys state champion.
Heilner, a freshman at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, had the first chance at victory, but Shapiro fought off five match points in the 10th game of the final set and went on to a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 win that gave the Waynflete School of Portland a 3-2 team victory and its fourth consecutive state title.
“It was hard not to think about the score,” said Shapiro, a sophomore, after his 2-hour, 40-minute battle. “I basically told myself that I had to go point by point and it worked out.”
Earlier in the day, the Lewiston boys won their eighth Class A title in the last nine years with a 4-1 win over Scarborough, while the Falmouth boys ended the daylong event by shutting out Ellsworth 5-0 to win the Class B title.
The day’s lone drama played out in Class C, where the teams were tied after Waynflete victories by state singles champion Patrick Ordway and the second doubles tandem of Jonathan Tao and Sam Martin were countered by GSA wins by second seed Jasper Adam and the first doubles team of Will Brokaw and Roy Xu.
“I remember right in the middle of the second set seeing that all the other matches were over, and I realized that it was a 2-2 game,” said Heilner.
Heilner took a 4-2 lead in the third set, but Shapiro broke serve in the seventh game and then held his serve to forge a 4-4 tie.
Heilner held serve for a 5-4 lead, then held three match points by winning the first three points on Shapiro’s serve.
“It was hard to ignore the score,” said Shapiro. “I just knew I had to win all the points.”
Shapiro won the next three points to get to deuce, but he had to hold off two more match points before finally holding serve to forge a 5-5 tie.
“It was heartbreaking being up love-40 and not winning that game; it was tough,” said Heilner. “The first couple of points after I got ahead I tried to go for a little more, and with the last few points I tried to get him to make some mistakes.”
Shapiro broke Heilner’s serve to a 6-5 lead, then needed four match points in the next game to serve out the match.
“At that point we were both winners in our minds,” said Shapiro. “It was just a matter of who won that last key point.”
This marked the second straight year Waynflete (11-5) defeated GSA (13-3) in the state final.
In Class B, Falmouth needed just an hour to secure its first state title in the boys ranks since 2007.
The Yachtsmen (16-0) were led by freshman top seed Justin Brogan, a finalist in this year’s state singles tournament who topped Ellsworth’s Tyler Small 6-0, 6-0.
“One of the things I like most about high school tennis is the team concept,” said Brogan. “You get to support each other and contribute to the team, and being part of a team also takes some of the pressure off you.”
Falmouth yielded just 12 games in its five straight-set victories, with Brendan McCarthy and Taylor Dimick adding singles wins for the Yachtsmen to go with doubles victories by the tandems of Harlan Cutchall and Sam Holland and Connor Burfeind and Tom Wilberg.
Ellsworth, the Eastern B champion for the second time in three years, ended its season with a 15-1 record.
In Class A, Lewiston’s fall from the state championship ranks lasted just one year, as the Blue Devils cruised past a Scarborough team seeking its first state crown. Scarborough (14-2) got its lone win when Alex Henny topped Eric Hall 6-0, 7-5 at first singles, but undefeated Lewiston (15-0) got straight-set wins from singles players Scott Gagne and Eric Morin and the doubles teams of Alex and Ben Chicoine and Jake Berube and Brett Vallee to return to the top of the Maine schoolboy tennis world after falling to Windham in last year’s state final.