ORONO, Maine — The Van Buren girls tennis team had come close to winning a championship before, including a year ago when the Crusaders reached the Eastern Maine Class C final.
This spring coach Leah Levasseur’s club completed that mission, defeating Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 4-1 on Wednesday at the University of Maine to win its first regional crown.
“That was exciting,” said Van Buren top singles player Parise Rossignol. “That’s something we wanted to do, and we got it done.”
The Crusaders join Brunswick and Waterville at the top of the Eastern Maine girls tennis world. Brunswick won its second straight Class A championship with a 5-0 victory over Mt. Blue of Farmington while Waterville topped Ellsworth 4-1 for its third consecutive Eastern B title.
Second-ranked Brunswick, the defending Class A state champion, advanced with a quick straight-sets victory over a fourth-seeded Mt. Blue team (11-4) that had upset previously unbeaten Hampden Academy in the semifinals.
The 15-0 Dragons lost just one game in singles, that by state singles runner-up Maisie Silverman during her 6-1, 6-0 victory over MacKenzie Conlogue. Ali Stankiewicz and Leah Soloway both won without losing a game, as did the first doubles tandem of Samiera MacMullen and Hannah Bobker.
Brunswick’s second doubles team of Ari Kasabian and Elizabeth Day completed the shutout with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Thia Bridges and Eryn Doiron.
The Dragons play Portland for the state crown back at the University of Maine on Saturday, weather permitting.
In Class B, third-seeded Waterville (15-0) won its sixth regional title in eight years despite having to re-adjust its lineup twice. Regular third seed Olivia Lopes was unavailable for duty, then doubles player Jayme Saulter was set to play in that spot until becoming ill on the bus ride to the match.
Waterville coach Jill Cristan called back to the Elm City for another player, Olivia Benissan, to come to the match to fill in at third singles but, ultimately, the Purple Panthers defaulted that match after clinching the team title.
“It was definitely team play because we had to mix it up, and they did a great job of playing with someone they hadn’t played with and being down a person,” said Cristan. “They definitely stepped up their game once again.”
Waterville top singles players Colleen O’Donnell and Tiffany Suchanek, both state singles quarterfinalists, each scored convincing victories, with O’Donnell defeating Ellsworth top seed Ina Maloney 6-0, 6-1, and Suchanek topping Jessica Toothaker 6-0, 6-0.
First doubles provided the lone three-set battle, with Waterville’s Lauren Hallenbeck and Federica Miele outlasting Mackenzie Myers and Sarah Shelton 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
The Purple Panthers’ Emma Cristan and Emily Dufour scored a 6-3, 6-1 win over Melissa Klemt and Josie Schmale at second doubles.
Waterville will play defending state champion Falmouth for the state title while top-seeded Ellsworth ends its season at 13-2.
In Class C, a three-set victory by Van Buren’s No. 1 doubles tandem of Felisha Bouchard and Jacinta Deschaine clinched the Crusaders’ championship, with Bouchard and Deschaine edging Mattanawcook’s Malia Shaefer and Leah Susen 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.
“In the second set I think it got a little bit in our heads that we were going to win,” said Bouchard. “We lost that set but we came back. It was a tough match but we pulled it off.”
Second-seeded Van Buren (11-2) took its initial lead at second doubles where Isabel Parent and Alexis Ouellette won without losing a game. Second singles player Courtney Parent scored a 6-1, 6-1 win over MA’s Harli Maxwell to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead.
Mattanawcook’s Katie Krapf earned a 6-2, 6-4 win over Chantal Deveau at third singles to tighten up the match before Bouchard and Deschaine secured the clinching point.
Rossignol closed out the match with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Mattanawcook top seed Ciara Tolman.
Van Buren will face the two-time defending state champion Waynflete School of Portland for the state title, while top-seeded MA ends its season at 13-2.