HAMPDEN, Maine — The George Stevens Academy girls tennis team earned a return trip to familiar territory Thursday afternoon — the Class C state final.
The third-ranked Eagles, armed with five returning players from last year’s Eastern Maine championship team, defeated top-seeded Van Buren 5-0 in a match held indoors at Bangor Tennis to capture their third regional title in the last four years.
Coach Tim Farrar’s club (14-2) will square off against Waynflete School of Portland (12-3) for the state crown in a 4 p.m. start Saturday at Colby College in Waterville.
Waynflete defeated GSA 4-1 in last year’s championship match.
“I feel like losing that match last year has pushed everyone to want to win it more, so this year we’re really determined to go out there and do our best,” said GSA first doubles player Grace Bugbee, one of four seniors in the Eagles’ lineup. “I think we definitely have the potential to win states even if it is up against Waynflete again. I’m excited to see what happens Saturday.”
George Stevens scored five straight-set victories against a Van Buren team coming off its best season in school history, having secured its first undefeated regular season and first trip to an Eastern Maine final.
“They’re always our toughest opponent,” said Van Buren coach Leah Levasseur of the Eagles. “They really are strong and we knew coming in it would be a tough match. We don’t play anybody as strong as they are.
“But this season has just been amazing for us, we’ve never done this before. The girls played well all season.”
GSA senior Maddie Theoharidis gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Natasha Bourgoin at second singles.
“My serves were good today,” said Theoharidis, a third-year varsity player. “I usually double fault a few times but I only double faulted once today and I felt like I was moving around well.”
The GSA second doubles tandem of sophomore Maggie Keating and junior Ze Zhang then defeated Chantal Rioux and Felisha Bouchard 6-3, 6-4 before sophomore Charlotte Reiter scored the match-clinching point with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Parise Rossignol at second singles.
“The shock for me today was at second doubles,” said Farrar. “They’re our youngest players and they struggled during the tournament, they lost against Calais and Madawaska, so I wasn’t sure how that would go but they did a great job.
“I really thought if we could win at second doubles that if somebody else could beat us after that then they’ve just got a really good team, so after we won there I thought we would win.”
The closest match of the day came at first doubles, where Bugbee and senior Grace Williamson rallied from a 4-1 first-set deficit to defeat Courtney Parent and Chantal Deveau 7-5, 6-4.
“Communication was a big factor in [coming back],” said Williamson, “and also just getting more confident and knowing that we could actually win and had the potential to do that.”
Senior Southerd Steer capped off the victory for GSA by defeating Haley Lizotte 6-4, 6-0 at first singles.
Van Buren, which will graduate just two seniors from its starting lineup, ends its season with a 13-1 record.
Brunswick girls dethrone Lewiston
In the Eastern A girls final played at the Racket and Fitness Center in Portland, top-ranked Brunswick avenged a loss to Lewiston in last year’s regional title match while ending the Blue Devils’ six-year reign as Class A state champion.
It was the third time this spring the Dragons had defeated Lewiston, each time by a 4-1 score.
Brunswick (15-0) was led by state singles champion Maisie Silverman, who scored a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Morgan Bowen at first singles.
Brunswick’s Ali Stankiewicz also scored a straight-set victory at second singles, 6-1, 6-2 over Paige LeBlond.
Kirsty Beauchesne scored a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory over Laura Pavitt at third singles to give Lewiston what would be its lone point.
Brunswick swept the doubles, with Alexa Rivers and Gillian Ford outlasting Courtney Aldrich and Kenzi Masselli 7-6(5), 7-6(4) at first doubles and Leah Soloway and Samiera MacMullen topping Jessica Soucy and Becca Michaud 6-1, 6-0.
Brunswick will face Western A champion McAuley for the state title Saturday at Colby College in Waterville.
Third-seeded Lewiston ended its season with a 12-3 record.