Qualifying rounds for the high school state singles tournament took place over the weekend, and coaches did a pretty good job of seeding in the region composed of players from the Western Maine Conference and Southern Maine Activities Association.

From a field of 63 at Deering High, all 16 girls seeded in the Region 5 qualifier advanced to the Round of 48 on May 28 at Bates College. The Round of 16 and quarterfinals are May 29, and the semifinals and finals are on Memorial Day.

The boys’ field started with 68 at South Portland High, and 14 seeds advanced. Windham sophomore Ryan Johnson, who plays No. 3 singles, and York senior Aaron Waldman, a former No. 1 who now plays No. 2, were the only unseeded players to advance.

Johnson avenged a season-opening loss to Scarborough sophomore Alex Henny — who now plays No. 1 and was seeded 11th in the region — with a 7-5, 6-3 victory. Waldman, who was seeded 16th in the region a year ago, beat No. 15 Ethan Babac of Westbrook 8-2 in a preliminary match before cruising 6-0, 6-0 in his second match.

Waldman and senior teammate Zach Kofman, the 14th regional seed, have flip-flopped at No. 1 for York over three seasons. The Wildcats have a 6-2 record, with both losses coming by 3-2 scores, against Cape Elizabeth and unbeaten Waynflete.

“We’ve been having a really solid year,” said York Coach Peter Webster, who counts nine seniors among his team of 15. “We play Falmouth (today) and Fryeburg on Wednesday, so that should give us an idea of how far we’ll be able to go.”

As the eighth seed in Western Class B last spring, the Wildcats beat No. 9 Maranacook in a prelim and knocked off No. 1 Lincoln Academy in the quarters before being eliminated by eventual state champion Yarmouth. The addition of three quality players — freshman Andrew Lamonica, sophomore Ryan Lusty and senior Matt Campbell (who returned to tennis after a season of golf) — has boosted the Wildcats into regional contention.

Lamonica and junior Jared Fitzgerald are 4-0 at second doubles. Lusty and Campbell are 7-0 at first doubles.

“It took us a little while with all the rainouts and cancellations to get our lineup straight,” Webster said. “I think every coach was in the same situation. But we finally got all our challenge matches in and got our lineup set.”

 

IN WINDHAM, Wayne Martin has not had to do much tweaking. All three of his singles players qualified for the Round of 48, a feat matched by the Waynflete boys (Brandon Thompson, Patrick Ordway and Devin Van Dyke), the Falmouth girls (Analise Kump, Annie Criscione and Libby Voccola) and North Yarmouth Academy girls (Thu-Trang Ho, Anna Jaeger and Sarah Jordan).

Windham’s qualifiers are Ryan Johnson, Nate Johnson and Dan Crocker.

“He’s getting better at singles every day,” Martin said of Ryan Johnson, who played doubles last spring. “He could be a top player in the state if he puts his mind to it.”

Crocker needed three sets to dispatch big-serving Tyler Billipp of Marshwood 6-0, 4-6, 6-2. The Windham senior broke one of the cardinal rules of tennis before his preliminary match: He opened a fresh can of tennis balls, exposing the fingers of his right hand to the razor-sharp lid.

“Sliced his pinkie,” Martin said. “His shirt was all full of blood. This is my 12th season and it’s the first time it’s happened.”

So what words of wisdom did Martin impart to Crocker after he and Billipp had split sets?

“Dan and I just kind of stood there and stared at each other,” Martin said. “I did tell him to keep it deep and that you’re the No. 6 seed for a reason.”

 

AS SINGLES players take a break from their tournament, the doubles specialists move to the fore, with the WMC and SMAA tournaments scheduled this weekend.

Falmouth seniors Emma Wilberg and Amanda Gallagher are bidding for their first WMC title after finishing second to since-graduated teammates two years in succession. Falmouth will host the WMC girls’ tournament.

The WMC boys will play at Waynflete’s Fore River complex. Waynflete senior Nate Niles and junior Eric Ordway are defending champs, but they have different partners this year. Niles plays with Sam Cleaves and Ordway with Ross Cummings, a 2008 semifinalist.

In the SMAA, Windham’s boys have claimed top honors three years in a row, with seniors Nick Rallis and Kurt Stultz seeking their third straight title. Those matches will be held in South Portland.

The SMAA girls, scheduled to play at Deering Oaks, will have a new champion.

Portland High seniors Emma Wilson and Lauren MacDougal won the consolation final last year, but they have different partners this spring.

“These league doubles tournaments are an awful lot of fun for the kids who don’t get to go to the Maine singles tournament,” said York’s Webster. “We’re looking forward to it.”

The last time a team from York won the conference doubles tournament is the answer to one of the trivia questions Webster sometimes asks his team.

“You have to go back to 1993, the year before I came,” he said. “I know because it’s inscribed on a plaque inside the trophy case in the cafeteria.”

Justin Heitmann and Chris Forrest, then freshmen, were the winners. They played singles the rest of their careers.

 

IF ANY TEAM could challenge the Falmouth girls this spring, it figured to be three-time defending Class C state champion North Yarmouth Academy.

They played Friday in Falmouth, but the visitors won only six games in five matches.

“We knew we would be the underdog,” said NYA Coach Lorena Coffin, “but we thought we would give them a closer match.”

It didn’t help that NYA (7-1) was missing one of its first doubles players, and Ho at first singles strained an abdominal muscle while serving.

She only played one set against Kump before retiring, mindful of Saturday’s singles qualifying rounds.

“Lots of excuses,” Coffin said, “but really, Falmouth is a very strong team.”

Indeed, the two-time defending Class B champions have a combined 45-0 match record.

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]