WATERVILLE, Maine — Brandon Ameglio knew all about the infrequency of unseeded players reaching the semifinals of the high school tennis state singles tournament.
In fact, the Waynflete of Portland senior knew exactly the last time it happened.
“It was Luke Gilman from Cape Elizabeth,” he said. “He did that my freshman year and I remember because he beat me in the Round of 48 that year,” said Ameglio. “He beat me but we had a nice match.”
The unranked Ameglio matched Gilman’s achievement Saturday, outlasting two top-five seeds during the Round of 16 and quarterfinals held at Colby College.
Ameglio scored hard-fought victories over No. 4 Alex Klemperer of Falmouth and No. 5 Thomas Jarmusz of Morse High School in Bath to advance to a semifinal Monday against top-seeded Nick Mathieu of Mt. Ararat of Topsham, the reigning state champion.
Mathieu yielded just two games while defeating Caribou freshman Parker Deprey and No. 8 Cole Ouellette of Lewiston.
The other boys semifinal will match No. 2 Dariy Vykhodtsev of Thornton Academy of Saco and No. 3 Nick Forester of Falmouth, while four of the top five seeds on the girls side advanced to the semifinals.
No. 1 Lana Mavor of Yarmouth faces No. 5 Grace Campanella of Kennebunk-Wells and Campanella’s older sister, No. 2 Rosemary Campanella of Kennebunk-Wells, plays No. 3 Bethany Hammond of Belgrade and Saint Dominic of Auburn.
Monday’s semifinals are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and have been moved to the Racket and Fitness Center in Portland due to a rainy forecast.
Ameglio, the No. 1 singles player for a Waynflete boys’ program that has won the last nine Class C state championships and is favored to win again this year, edged Klemperer 7-5, 6-3 before outlasting Jarmusz 6-3, 7-5 in a battle of players patiently endeavoring to work their way from the baseline to the net.
“I obviously wasn’t seeded but I was confident in my play so that didn’t bother me too much,” said Ameglio. “Coming into today I knew Alex was a good player, and I didn’t know much about Thomas but he turned out to be a really good player, too.”
“I knew I could compete with them. I was just going to try my best today and it worked out.”
One key to success for Ameglio — who was ousted in the Round of 32 each of the last two years — involved the movement required for him to make the most of his ground strokes.
“The big thing coaches always tell me is to move my feet, that’s my biggest problem,” said the 6-foot-4-inch Ameglio. “I sometimes get a little lazy and stop moving my feet so I think when I’m playing well that’s what I’m doing. I’m just moving.”
Jarmusz, whose brother Matthew also reached the quarterfinals, won the most competitive match of the day as he tipped No. 12 seed Paul Branch of John Bapst of Bangor 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) in the Round of 16.
“I knew Paul would come back because he’s a good player, he had really good strokes on both sides,” said Thomas Jarmusz. “He hit a lot better in the last two sets and it was really tight but it was the most fun I’ve had all year.”
Jarmusz blitzed through a quick first set, only to have Branch rebound not only to win the second set but build a 5-2 lead in the third.
Branch, who reached Saturday’s competition with a three-set Round of 32 victory over Cape Elizabeth’s Ted Hall a day earlier, served for the match at 5-3, but Jarmusz found late momentum and won the match after building a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker.
“That’s not the first time I’ve done it this season so I knew it was possible,” said Jarmusz of his third-set comeback. “I just kept playing the way I play and it worked out.”
Vykhodtsev, who dropped a three-set final to Mathieu last spring, defeated Hampden Academy’s Maxime Simonneau 6-1, 6-0 in the Round of 16 and topped No. 7 Matthew Jarmusz of Morse by the same score in the quarters.
Forester, a semifinalist as a freshman before being forced to retire from that match due to injury, advanced by topping Peter Gribizis of Portland 6-1, 6-0 and freshman Declan Archer of Kennebunk 6-3, 6-0.
Archer, who had knocked off No. 11 Alec Cyr in Friday’s Round of 32, defeated Hampden Academy top seed Zach Flannery in straight sets in the Round of 16.
Mavor, who also was top-ranked in last year’s girls field as a freshman before bowing out in the semifinals with a back injury, lost just two games in defeating Crystal Bell of John Bapst and No. 9 Lexi Epstein of Waynflete.
Epstein had ousted No. 8 Gabrielle Marquis of Caribou in the Round of 16.
Rosemary Campanella, a state finalist as a sophomore last year, topped Kathryn Pare of Greely and No. 7 Liv Clifford of Cape Elizabeth, both in straight sets, while freshman Grace Campanella topped No. 12 Emily Harris of Lincoln Academy in Newcastle without dropping a game before upending No. 4 Izzy Evans from Greely of Cumberland Center 6-0, 6-2.
Evans knocked off Caribou’s Ashley Matlock 6-0, 6-3 to reach the quarters.
Hammond, a senior who will play at Division II Stonehill next year, advanced to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year by defeating Eva Sachs of Thornton Academy and No. 6 Kira Wolpow of Brunswick, both in straight sets.