PORTLAND, Maine — It’s become a rite of spring for the Waynflete Flyers — winning state tennis championships.
The Portland school’s boys and girls teams swept the Class C titles for the fourth straight year Saturday at The Racket and Fitness Club, as Waynflete secured its fourth straight girls crown by defeating Van Buren 4-1 while the Flyers’ boys squad won its seventh straight championship with a 5-0 victory over George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
Van Buren (11-1) returned its lineup intact from the 2013 squad that fell 4-1 to the Flyers last year in a state final during which two of Waynflete’s victories came in matches decided by match tiebreakers after the teams had split their first two sets.
And the Crusaders proved competitive again, particularly at first doubles and first singles, but were unable to become the first Eastern C girls team to win a state title since the division was formed in 1995.
“I think we had a good chance of winning,” said Van Buren senior top seed Parise Rossignol. “We had a good chance and played well today but just came up a little short.”
After Waynflete’s Allie Armstrong and Lexi Epstein scored straight-set victories at third and second singles, Van Buren’s first doubles tandem of junior Felisha Bouchard and sophomore Jacinta Dechaine closed the gap to 2-1 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Waynflete seniors Sophie Raffel and Nina Flight.
“Basically we just used the net really well,” said Bouchard. “That’s something we worked on in practice and it really helped us, and our serves were actually going in today. That always helps.”
Waynflete third-year top seed Emily White jumped out to a 4-1 first-set lead over Rossignol, but the Crusaders’ University of Maine-bound basketball standout turned aggressor, making her way to the net in order to force the action and won the next four games before White regrouped to win the first set 7-5.
“[White] was really, really good so I knew I had to try to change it up,” said Rossignol, who fell to White 6-0, 6-2 in last year’s state final. “I knew if I just stayed back it would be harder and she would have the upper edge, so I tried to attack the net and see if I could win that way. I think it won me a lot of points.”
White then secured the match-clinching point for 14-2 Waynflete with a 6-3 second-set victory.
“Not very many players come into the net so it was a shock at first. How do I get it by her?” said ‘White. “My lobs weren’t going in and I couldn’t get it by her. She was just everywhere.
“I just tried to keep hitting the passing shots because my lobs weren’t going in very well.”
Waynflete’s second doubles tandem of Annika Morrill and Liv Troiano capped off the Flyers’ victory with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Isabel Parent and Alexis Ouellette.
The Waynflete boys (13-3) defeated George Stevens Academy in the Class C boys state final for the fifth consecutive year.
GSA (13-3) extended the Flyers to three sets in one match, at second doubles where Tim Dentino and Beowulf Urban won the first set 6-1 before Waynflete’s Jake Soley and Misha Linnehan rallied to win 6-2, 7-5.
Waynflete lost just six games in the other four matches. Top seed Isaac Salas, a state singles semifinalist, dropped one game in defeating GSA senior Alex Heilner, as did Brandon Ameglio in his win over Tate Yoder at second singles.
Flyers’ third seed Clancy Mitchell was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Nick Boechat and Waynflete’s second doubles team of Stephen Epstein and Peter Michalakes topped Ed Lameyer and Luke Theoharidis 6-2, 6-2.
“The talent is obvious,” said GSA coach Larry Gray of Waynflete. “I think we competed well, and I’m glad that in second doubles we kept them on court for a couple of hours. But their skill level is impressive.”