Eastern Maine’s team tennis champions will face a formidable collective challenge Saturday when they battle the best of the West for state titles at Colby College in Waterville.
And the best of the West represents just three schools, as Scarborough, Falmouth and Waynflete of Portland swept boys and girls regional finals Wednesday.
The state championship matches begin with the Class A matches at 10 a.m., followed by Class C at 1 p.m. and Class B at 4 p.m.
Save for Lewiston’s dominance in Class A, with the Blue Devils’ girls team the five-time defending state champion and the boys team the winner of seven of the last eight state crowns, the ultimate titles have proven elusive for Eastern Maine teams in Classes B and C.
In Class B, the Caribou boys in 2008 and the Camden Hills of Rockport girls in 2003 were the last teams to bring the titles north, while in Class C the George Stevens of Blue Hill boys were the last EM team to win a state title in 2004 while no Eastern C girls squad has won it all.
Here’s a preview of the 2011 finals:
Class A: The undefeated Lewiston boys (15-0) are motivated by their loss to Windham in last year’s state final. They will face a Scarborough team (14-1) in search of its first state championship after knocking off Kennebunk 3-2 for its first win in four straight trips to the Western Maine championship match.
The Lewiston girls (13-2) avenged two regular-season losses to Brunswick with a 3-2 victory in Wednesday’s regional final, while Scarborough (12-3) will be coming off a 4-1 win over defending WM champion Gorham, losing only at first singles.
Class B: The girls final is a rematch from 2009, when Falmouth defeated Waterville 5-0. That victory is part of a 56-match winning streak for the Yachtsmen, the three-time defending state champions. Falmouth (15-0) has three of the top six seeds from the recent state singles tournament in juniors Annie Criscione, Analise Kump and sophomore Libby Voccola.
Waterville (14-1) was tested during the Eastern Maine tournament, upending defending regional champ Caribou in the quarterfinals and previously undefeated Camden Hills in the semifinals before outlasting Mount Desert Island 3-2 in the finals. The Purple Panthers have four freshmen among their top seven players, including all three singles players in Colleen O’Donnell, Olivia Lopes and Jayme Saulter.
The boys final will match undefeated teams in Falmouth and Ellsworth, both 15-0.
Ellsworth, which fought off Presque Isle 3-2 in its regional final, is back in the title match for the second time in three years but is in search of its first state championship since 1996. The Eagles feature top seed Tyler Small, a quarterfinalist in the state singles tournament.
Falmouth, in search of its first state crown since winning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, edged Cape Elizabeth 3-2 to win the WM title. Freshmen Justin Brogan, the state singles runner-up, and 12th-seeded Brendan McCarthy are part of a talented singles trio that also includes senior Taylor Dimick.
Class C: The George Stevens boys (13-2) are back at states for the eighth time in 10 years after edging Orono 3-2 for the EM crown. The Eagles will be playing a familiar foe in three-time defending state champion Waynflete. GSA defeated the Flyers to win its 2004 state crown, while Waynflete topped the Eagles in the 2002 and 2008 championship matches.
GSA graduated nine of its top 11 players from a year ago, but one of the returning players is singles top seed Johnny Xue, a sophomore. Xue will have his work cut out for him, however, as he’ll face state singles champion Patrick Ordway, also a sophomore.
Waynflete also boasts a different look this year, having graduated five of its top seven players from a year ago. Brandon Thompson, the 2010 state singles champion, opted to compete on the school’s track team this spring.
The Flyers come into the state final with a 10-5 record — but all of their losses have come against Class B competition, including two matches to Falmouth and two to WM finalist Cape Elizabeth.
Waynflete defeated Hall-Dale 5-0 in its regional final after outlasting top-ranked Winthrop 3-2 in the semifinals when second singles player Eric Ordway won a third-set tiebreaker.
The Waynflete girls (11-4) emerged from the eighth seed to win the WM title for the first time since 2006, upending top-ranked Hall-Dale in the quarterfinals and edging Winthrop 3-2 in the regional final despite losing at first and second singles.
GSA (12-3) is in the state final for the third time in five years after knocking off previously undefeated Foxcroft Academy 5-0 in the EM title match. Led by junior top seed Sotherd Steer, the Eagles are undefeated against Class C competition this spring, with their only losses coming against Class B MDI (twice) and Ellsworth.