LEWISTON – Their future paths may be different, but for one afternoon Brandon Thompson and Elena Mand-zhukova shared a glorious moment, winning the state’s high school singles tennis championships Monday at Bates College.

Thompson, a junior at Waynflete School in Portland, defeated his teammate, freshman Patrick Ordway, 6-3, 6-2. Mandzhukova, a junior exchange student at Brunswick High who will return to Portugal in 12 days, beat Falmouth’s Analise Kump 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It feels great,” said Thompson. “As a freshman I got to the semifinals, as a sophomore I made it to the finals. It’s good to get it today. It’s a great feeling. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.”

And that included playing a teammate for the championship.

“It was a little weird,” said Thompson, who was the No. 1 seed. “You don’t expect to play a teammate in the finals. You just try to keep it in your head that he is your opponent.”

Waynflete Coach Jeff Madore made it clear before the finals that he wasn’t going to be able to coach either boy. Instead he gave them some basic advice — “Get your feet moving, get a lot of first serves in,” he said — and let them go at each other like they do every day in practice.

“I thought they both played great,” said Madore. “It’s tough. When you play against a guy like Brandon, you’re playing against a guy who can track down so many balls. Patrick hit some that I’m sure he thought were winners, but Brandon got to them.”

Each game was close, with both Thompson, a lefty, and Ordway making some stunning shots. Ordway, the No. 2 seed, made some uncharacteristic unforced errors in the first set, including a double-fault on set point.

“I got a little too excited,” he said. “I went for some stuff I probably won’t make, but in the moment, I tried.”

Down 1-0 in the second set, Ordway made two great shots — one chasing down a lob and then blindly backhanding it past Thompson — to pull even.

But Thompson won the next three games, twice breaking Ordway’s serve, and, he said, “at that point I felt I had a good shot at it.”

While disappointed, Ordway said it was fun playing against Thompson and that he learned some valuable lessons.

“You’ve got to be patient, you can’t rush things,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have an encore next year.”

That’s a possibility in the girls’ tournament as well. Mandzhukova, who was born in Bulgaria and moved to Portugal at age 9, plans to return to Maine next fall to attend Kents Hill. Kump, the tourney’s No. 1 seed, is only a sophomore.

She more than held her own against the powerful Mandzhukova, who planned to celebrate her championship by studying for finals. Mandzhukova, 17, didn’t play tennis last year, so this was a very satisfying finish.

“I feel like it’s a great comeback,” she said. “Playing at Maine Pines, and with my teammates, helped get my game back. After such a long layoff, there was a little pressure on me. I felt it a little. I was nervous in all my games. I was hoping I could get over it.”

She did, just in time. Kump, who trailed 5-1 in the first set before rallying to within 5-4, again trailed 5-4 in the second set. She held serve, then broke Mandzhukova’s serve to go ahead 6-5.

But Mandzhukova, the No. 2 seed, broke Kump’s serve to force the tiebreaker. Kump won four of the first five points in the tiebreaker, taking a 4-1 lead on a double-fault by Mandzhukova.

“I was exhausted at that point,” said Kump. “I was up 4-1 and had played well. I knew she was a great player and that I had to keep playing strong. But she had a great comeback. It was a nice match.”

Twice, Mandzhukova placed strong forehands deep into the court, where Kump couldn’t return them. The final point was a staredown at the net, each playing returning three shots before Kump’s final backhand went into the net.

“I was nervous and mad with myself,” Mandzhukova said of her 4-1 deficit. “I just wanted to play good, and come back get my game together, get everything together, get my head together.

“I needed to make it more my game. Sometimes I lost myself in it and I started playing her game. But I’m glad I was able to get over that and get back to playing my game.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]