WATERVILLE — The Camden Hills of Rockport boys tennis team may owe a debt of gratitude to Windjammers’ baseball coach Jeff Hart.
Because when Pierre Haugen, a senior exchange student from Belgium, was cut from the baseball team during preseason, that left him free to join the tennis team — and Haugen’s three-set victory over John Bapst’s Lucas Hubbard at Colby College on Wednesday enabled Camden Hills to win its first Eastern Maine Class B title since 2005.
“I was planning on playing baseball but I got cut from the team,” said Haugen after his team’s 3-2 victory over the Crusaders. “I had been playing tennis for a couple years in Belgium and I wanted to try something else when I came here, but when baseball didn’t work out I joined the ten-nis team for the first day of practice, and it was a good decision.”
Also earning their first regional title since 2005 was the unbeaten and third-ranked Caribou girls, which shook off a sluggish start to earn a 4-1 victory over previously unbeaten and top-ranked Camden Hills.
“It was a little tighter than probably what we thought it might be,” said longtime Caribou coach John Habeeb. “We were down in all those first sets, but our girls hung in there and managed to win those sets.
“Then our girls all played better in the second set, and that’s just the way it is when you take the long bus rides we take. You seem to play better in the second set because then your legs are under you, so we really put a focus on the first set, telling the girls that that if you get down don’t give up on it. That’s what happened today.”
While several of the Caribou players trailed in the opening minutes of the match, the 15-0 Vikings quickly regrouped to win three of the five first sets.
Caribou then clinched the title by winning the first three matches to be completed. Top seed Jenna Selander — one of six players back from last year’s team that dropped a 3-2 decision to Waterville in the regional final — defeated freshman Carissa English 6-4, 6-1, then Carlee Pinette topped Julia Kosowsky 6-4, 6-0 at third singles.
Caribou’s first doubles team of seniors Missy Nadeau and Liz Barbosa earned the clinching point with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 win over Jessie Mathews and Kayla Hart.
Camden Hills (14-1) got its lone point when Emma Blakeley outlasted Laura Collins 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 at second singles, before Caribou’s Ashley Richards and Katie Keaton defeated Jamie Burgess and Erika Alex 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 at second doubles.
“Last year we really wanted to win because last year we lost in a really close match,” said Selander. “This year we wanted to come in and win this match because it really meant a lot to us, especially the seniors.”
The boys final quickly became a case of who would win at second and third singles.
Camden Hills (13-2) swept both doubles matches, with Evan Drinkwater and John Vannorsdall topping Bapst’s Ian Szydlo and Matt Dunning 6-0, 6-4 and Andrew Beauchesne and Tom Young stopping Jacob Leonard and Justin Lad 6-0, 6-3.
Both first and second doubles have played really well this season,” said Drinkwater. “Coming into the match we knew their doubles teams weren’t quite as strong as their singles, and doubles have really contributed to our success all year.”
John Bapst top seed Bob Tom Flynn, a semifinalist at the recent state singles tournament, scored an anticipated point for the 12-3 Crusaders at first singles with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Will Vlautin.
That left Haugen to battle Hubbard at second singles and Camden Hills’ Casey Scott against Charlie Volkwein at third singles.
Both matches went three sets before the teams earned a split — just enough for Camden Hills to secure the team win — as Haugen earned a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Hubbard just before Scott fell to Volkwein 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“I thought our third seed was going to win, and then when he wasn’t winning I was like ‘I need to do this for my team and my school,” said Haugen. “Even though I’m not from here, I still have the school spirit. This is huge.”