Falmouth’s Olivia Leavitt, Brendan McCarthy capture state tennis singles titles

Posted June 02, 2014, at 6:23 p.m.
Last modified June 02, 2014, at 6:45 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — Falmouth High School’s Olivia Leavitt and Brendan McCarthy emerged as the state’s top singles tennis players Monday — but the two Yachtsmen took vastly different paths to their tournament championships at Bates College.

The second-seeded McCarthy needed just 41 minutes to defeat Mount Ararat of Topsham freshman Nick Mathieu 6-1, 6-2 in the boys final.

The top-seeded and defending girls champion Leavitt required a grueling 2 hours, 56 minutes to outlast Brunswick senior Maisie Silverman 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in their third tournament meeting in as many years.

“Maisie was definitely the more aggressive person in the first set,” said Leavitt, a junior who won 6-1, 6-1 in their championship-match meeting last year after dropping a three-set semifinal to Silverman in 2012. “I had to be more aggressive, but I also had to mix it up because by the second set, it also was about fitness.”

A high level of fitness was required as the players battled breezy, sunny conditions and temperatures near 80 degrees — a rarity for the current tennis season.

McCarthy, a senior playing in his second straight final, used his left-handed topspin forehand and serve-and-volley game to overwhelm Mathieu, the No. 4 seed.

“Nick has a huge forehand, so I tried keep it on his backhand and attack at the right moments,” said McCarthy. “I like coming into the net. I think it’s one of the stronger points of my game.”

McCarthy became the first Falmouth boy to win the state singles title since Brian Patterson won the second of his two crowns as a senior in 1995.

“The program does pretty well every year,” said McCarthy. “Falmouth has pretty good players year in and year out, so I guess I’m just happy to bring one home for the school.”

Silverman’s more power-based game — featuring a strong serve and relatively flat groundstrokes — was the dominant element early in the girls’ title match as the four-time state finalist and 2012 champion secured the first set.

Silverman then won the first two games of the second set before Leavitt altered her approach — and her racket after her first one broke — and began moving her opponent more from side to side with her topspin forehand and a mix of topspin and slice on the backhand.

Leavitt used that strategy to run off the next six games to level the match at a set apiece.

“I changed my game plan,” Leavitt said. “I wasn’t executing how I should have, and my coaches reminded me of that. I just had to put it all on the line.”

The Bates College-bound Silverman regrouped to take leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the final set, but again Leavitt proved resilient, chasing down several potential winners by her opponent and winning the next five games to become the first girl to win back-to-back state singles titles since Christine Ordway of Waynflete of Portland in 2006 and 2007..

“Tennis is a lot about momentum and who’s controlling the point and who’s not,” said Silverman. “In the first three games [of the third set] I was controlling the points and being more aggressive, and after that it was in her control and you could feel that. She’s a fighter.”

Silverman reached the final with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over freshman Bethany Hammond of Belgrade and Saint Dominic of Auburn in a matchup of a frequent playing partners.

“I knew her game and she knows my game, but overall she has more experience and has more power and her game is better,” said Hammond.

Leavitt advanced to the final without losing a game to No. 5 Colleen O’Donnell, a first-time semifinalist from Waterville.

McCarthy topped No. 3 Isaac Salas of Waynflete of Portland 6-3, 6-2 in a semifinal battle of the top remaining seeded boys, while Mathieu defeated unseeded Luke Gilman of Cape Elizabeth 6-2, 6-1.

“I train with Isaac throughout the year, so I sort of knew what to expect. He’s a great player,” said McCarthy. “I tried to keep it away from his weapon, which is his forehand and then take advantage off the balls that I could.”

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