YARMOUTH – It wasn’t quite the epic match some had expected for the finale of a men’s singles field that numbered 108 on Friday morning.

And yet, the 6-2, 6-4 victory by second-seeded Ben Cox over defending champion and No. 1 seed Mike Hill still brought a crowd of more than 100 to its feet Sunday afternoon at the 21st annual Betty Blakeman Memorial Tennis Tournament.

Cox, a 30-year-old teaching pro from Vero Beach, Fla., is spending his first year at Portland Country Club in Falmouth after teaching the past two summers at Prouts Neck in Scarborough. He rose to No. 1 his senior year at the University of Michigan, and regularly plays in Florida against such former touring pros as Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Roscoe Tanner.

At the Blakeman, Cox almost seemed in a hurry to get through the draw. Not once did he sit during a changeover, and not once in six matches did he fail to hold serve.

“I just tried to play my game, which is to hit with a lot of pace,” Cox said. “I’ve been successful with it for 10 years. Why change now?”

Hill, 19, was a three-time schoolboy state champ at Mt. Ararat High and is back home in Topsham after his first year at Brown University. When he was able to engage Cox in rallies the match became competitive, because each player is more than proficient from the baseline.

The problem, for Hill, was handling Cox’s serve well enough to begin a rally.

“Not only is it fast,” Hill said of the 130-mph heat, “it has a lot of kick, a lot of bite. It’s really hard to read, too, and he can place it on a dime.”

Hill finally got a chance at a break with a 4-3 lead in the second set. Cox, who was experiencing cramping in his right calf, fell behind love-40, then won three straight points. Hill earned a fourth break point before Cox finally held serve to even the set.

“There’s no doubt he’s got big-time talent,” Cox said of Hill, who was coming off a month of relative inactivity following his collegiate season. “Down love-40, I had no choice but to go for some big serves. If he goes up 5-3 there, it’s a different story.”

A big forehand down the line gave Cox a break in the next game, and he quickly served out the match.

“That was a pivotal game,” Hill said of his missed opportunities at 4-3.

“He just played too well for me (Sunday). He took advantage of my every mistake.”

The women’s final was somewhat anticlimactic, as Meghan Kelley, 12, of Falmouth became the youngest individual champion in tournament history when Maria Varano, 16, of Kennebunk retired after the players split two sets.

“I just got really sick,” explained Varano, who was unseeded. “It was my seventh match of the weekend (including two in mixed doubles), and my back started to cramp up.”

Varano won the first set in a tiebreadker, 10-8, but Kelley took the second set, 6-4. Kelley will enter eighth grade this fall and is ranked in both New England (5th) and nationally (167th) among girls 14-and-under. She stopped playing 12-and-under tournaments after rising to 20th in the nation.

“We had long points and we both played tough in the first set,” said Kelley, who had two set points in the first and fought off three for Varano before losing the tiebreaker. “I think I was more aggressive in the second set.”

The top-seeded Kelley won three straight games to go ahead 5-3 in the second set. After Kelley forced a third set with the match already well into its third hour, Varano called it quits.

“She said she felt tired and dizzy,” said Kelley, who used to carpool with Varano when both trained at a club in Massachusetts. “It’s disappointing that she had to retire, because anything could have happened at that point.”

In the other singles final Sunday on the hard courts of Yarmouth High School, Paul Whitmore of Hampton, N.H., won his fourth consecutive men’s 55-plus title, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 over Dick McLeod of South Portland.

There were also four doubles divisions, which helped swell the total number of participants to a record 202.

Roger Gagne of Falmouth and Doug Bearce of Arundel won the 55-plus men’s doubles, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 over Whitmore and Roy Gum of South Carolina.

In the women’s doubles final, Helen Boucher of Brunswick and Elisa Whittier of Auburn beat Shelley Goodrich of Durham and Carol Nylen of Portland, 6-2, 6-0.

Brad and Wendy Watson of Montpelier, Vt., captured the mixed doubles title, outlasting Regan Johnson and Peter Carlisle of South Portland, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In the men’s doubles final, Brian Mavor of Yarmouth and Brian Powell of Kennebunkport — each seven-time singles champions — teamed up to defeat Eric Nixon of Wells and Tobe Okoye of Randolph, Mass., 6-4, 6-2.

Powell, a singles finalist in nine of the previous 10 years, withdrew from the singles draw Thursday morning because of an injured shoulder.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]