LEWISTON, Maine — It was a momentary blip in what until now has been a near-perfect junior season for Brunswick High School tennis star Maisie Silverman.
The reigning girls state singles champion lost two straight games Monday afternoon early in the first set of her quarterfinal against Belfast’s Shashanna Moll — a rarity considering she didn’t lose a game in nine regular-season matches this spring and had been slightly challenged only by Hampden’s Ashley Woodside in a 6-2, 6-2 victory during last week’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship match.
Moll then threatened to win a third straight game, but Silverman emerged from deuce to win the game and then roll a 6-2, 6-0 victory at the Wallach Tennis Complex on the campus of Bates College to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals.
“I got a little distracted, that can happen with nerves and everything, and I just wasn’t focused point by point,” said Silverman. “It’s happened to me before so I know how to get through it. She was playing great, so I just had to keep telling myself to be consistent, get the ball over and move my feet. I did it, and after that I just had to keep focused.”
The top-seeded Silverman will be joined in the semifinals by three teammates from five-time defending Class B team champion Falmouth — sophomore Olivia Leavitt, freshman Julia Brogan and senior Libby Voccola.
Silverman will play the fifth-ranked Brogan, who rallied to beat fourth-ranked freshman Tiffany Suchanek of Waterville 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. The second-seeded Leavitt, a semifinalist last spring who defeated No. 7 Woodside 6-1, 6-3 in her quarterfinal, will play No. 6 Voccola, who upended No. 3 Colleen O’Donnell of Waterville 7-6(3), 6-3.
Boys defending champion Jordan Friedland, a senior from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, also earned a return trip to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over Isaac Salas, a sophomore from the Waynflete School in Portland.
“Isaac can can crack winners from anywhere if he wants to, he’s a strong kid,” said Friedland. “I had to try to keep it away from his forehand but his flat backhand is good as well.”
The top-seeded Friedland will play No. 4 Matt Gilman of Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. Gilman advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Sam Leeman of Morse of Bath.
Patrick Ordway of Waynflete, the 2011 state champion and third seeded this year, advanced for the fourth straight year to the semifinals, where he will face No. 2 Brendan McCarthy of Falmouth.
Ordway topped No. 11 Burke Paxton of North Yarmouth Academy 6-0, 6-3 in the quarters while McCarthy defeated No. 7 Satchel McCarthy of Cape Elizabeth 6-0, 6-2.
Seven of the top eight boys seeds and all of the top eight girls seeds reached the quarterfinals with Round of 16 victories during Wednesday’s morning session — with the lone exception Paxton outlasting No. 6 Peter Higgins of Cape Elizabeth 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-4.
The only other three-set match in the Round of 16 had the eighth-seeded Salas surging to defeat No. 9 Jai Aslam of Messalonskee of Oakland 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
All the players had to cope with a cool, stiff breeze that played with lobs, overheads and service tosses just two days after rain forced Saturday’s Rounds of 48 and 32 indoors to the Racket & Fitness Center in Portland.
“The wind was a huge factor, we were both feeling it,” said Friedland after his quarterfinal. “Isaac’s a good player, and he had a tough first match today so he was feeling a little fatigued, I think, and I was just lucky to get through.”
Silverman also acknowledged the challenge of coping with less than optimal playing conditions.
“It’s hard, especially with the wind, because shots that usually go in don’t so you just have to be positive and not get down on yourself,” said Silverman.
That phase of the game is just one area of her chosen sport that Silverman has worked to improve since surviving three-set challenges in both her semifinal and championship-match victories last year. She’s also focused on a more offensive style of play.
“I’ve definitely been working a lot on going to the net,” she said. “Moving forward and moving through my forehand and putting balls away at net is something I’ve been working on.”
Brunswick coach Rob Manter said Silverman’s improvement from a year ago has both physical and more subtle qualities.
“I think she’s just mentally tougher from a year of experience,” he said. “I don’t think she gets quite as frazzled when things get tight. Her shots are more consistent, too, and I think her serve is definitely a better shot this year.”