WATERVILLE, Maine — While Bangor cruised into the Class A state final for boys tennis, winning 72 of its 75 individual matches en route to its first Eastern Maine title in 10 years, Gorham had traveled a much more challenging route.
In fact, had top singles player Kyle Curley failed to rally from a 5-2 deficit to win a third-set tiebreaker in the regional semifinals against Scarborough, the new Western Maine champions’ quest for a first state crown would have ended there.
But Curley came back in that match, and he and his teammates rallied collectively Saturday — winning three three-set matches — to outlast previously undefeated Bangor 4-1 in the state final held at Colby College.
“To be honest, I never expected us to do this well,” said Curley. “I’m so happy for all of the kids on our team. Everyone was playing such great tennis. I’m proud of each and every one of our players. I trust that each of our players will come through in the clutch when they have to.”
While Gorham was winning for the first time, Falmouth won the Class B title for the second straight year with a 5-0 victory over Ellsworth and the Waynflete School of Portland defeated George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill 5-0 to win its fifth consecutive Class C crown.
Gorham and Bangor, both 15-1, split the only two matches decided in two sets, with Gorham’s Milan Vidovic defeating Sam Bolduc 6-1, 6-1 at third singles and Bangor’s first doubles tandem of Chris Howat and Connor Griffin topping Mike Lubelczyk and Tom Susi 7-6(5), 6-2.
But the remaining matches went the distance, and Gorham won them all.
First Quincy Owens and Adam Bourgault — the only seniors in the Gorham lineup — rallied from a set down to edge Kris Bears and Robby Brookings at second doubles 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Then Curley, a junior, rallied from a 4-1 first-set deficit and then withstood a second-set comeback by Bangor top seed Patrick Stewart to earn the championship-clinching point with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory.
Gorham second seed Ryan Gilbert capped off the victory with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over John Szewczyk.
“[Gorham is] a very good team, a very strong team,” said Bangor coach Cindi Howard, whose team will graduate six starting seniors. “Our real big challenge this season was Hampden, they’re a great team, but then we get into a setting like this and it’s tough.”
In Class B, Falmouth extended its undefeated streak to 32 matches over two years by sweeping Ellsworth for the second straight year in the state final.
“I think we have a lot of people who play year-round, and I think that’s a big factor,” said Justin Brogan, the Yachtsmen’s top singles player and a finalist in the state singles tournament each of the last two years. “We work really hard throughout the year.”
This match was never really in doubt, though a previously unbeaten Ellsworth team that fielded six seniors was competitive in three of the five matches.
“Early in the match we were showing a little competitiveness” said Eagles’ coach Brian Higgins, whose team finished with a 15-1 record after playing in its third state final in four years. “I thought we were better [this year]. I don’t know how much better they were, but they’re pretty good.”
Brogan defeated Tyler Small at first singles without yielding a game, as did Falmouth’s second doubles tandem of Hutch Hurwitz and Eric Sanderson in their victory over Diego Cox and Caleb Mora.
Another Falmouth sophomore, Brendan McCarthy, himself a quarterfinalist in this year’s state singles tournament, secured the clinching point with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Dillon Toothaker at second singles, just minutes before freshman Aiden McGrory completed a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Tyler Beardsley at third singles.
Ellsworth’s first doubles tandem of seniors Brandan Albee and Dustin Murphy took Falmouth juniors Sam Holland and Tom Wilberg to three sets before falling 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in the longest match of the morning.
In Class C, Waynflete had an easier time against GSA than it did a year ago, when it took a come-from-behind three-set victory by third singles player Ben Shapiro over Alex Heilner to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory.
Shapiro had an easier time this year, defeating Heilner 6-3, 6-2 at third singles to give 13-3 Waynflete a 2-0 lead after top seed Patrick Ordway topped Johnny Xue 6-2, 6-1.
The rest of the matches were come-from-behind three-set victories for the Flyers, though the clinching victory by first doubles teammates Owen Deady and Addison St. Onge-May, a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 win decision Jason Gao and Roy Xu, came shortly after Shapiro completed his victory.
Freshman second seed Isaac Salas followed with a 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jasper Adam and Waynflete’s second doubles team of Jon Tao and Sam Martin earned a 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Ed Lameyer and Nick Dillon.
GSA finished its season with a 14-3 record.