FALMOUTH – Andy Strout and Bob McCully leaned against a wall inside Falmouth Fitness & Tennis, watching the two best teams in Western Class B go at each other.

They’ve been doing this — Strout at Cape Elizabeth and McCully at Falmouth — for 33 years, since the days of wooden tennis racquets. Shoot, they go back even longer if you count the years Strout played for Cape Elizabeth against McCully-coached teams at Falmouth.

Strout: “Have you ever been to my house? I have this huge dartboard with Bob’s face on it.”

McCully: “On the back of my toilet seat there’s a big picture of Andy.”

Strout: “In my bathing suit!”

Yes, it’s friendly. And it’s always competitive.

Falmouth knocked off the defending Class B state champions Wednesday 5-0, but don’t read too much into that score. Three of the matches went three sets. Cape Elizabeth took a 1-0 lead in sets in both doubles matches.

“It wasn’t easy,” McCully said.

Both teams entered the match — originally scheduled for Cape Elizabeth but moved inside to Falmouth because of rain — with perfect records through four matches.

Falmouth hadn’t lost an individual set all season. Cape Elizabeth, which shut out defending Class C champion Waynflete last week, had lost only one set before Wednesday.

“Not much of a difference,” said Strout, in his 33rd year as head coach. “They showed their cards and we showed ours. We battled and played hard, just not consistently enough.”

With four indoor courts available, Falmouth freshman Justin Brogan and Cape Elizabeth sophomore Matt Gilman waited on the sidelines to see if their No. 1 singles match would be decisive. After the first four completed sets showed a 2-2 tie, it seemed likely.

Instead, Falmouth swept. Freshman Brendan McCarthy shook off a challenge from Cape Elizabeth senior Ross Sherman at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 7-5.

Falmouth’s first doubles team of senior Harlan Cutshall and sophomore Sam Holland overcame early difficulties to defeat senior Ben Morse and sophomore Sam Sherman of Cape Elizabeth, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The outcome remained in doubt when, at No. 3 singles, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Satchell McCarthy escaped three match points in the second set to force a third against Falmouth senior Taylor Dimick. Meanwhile, in second doubles action played closest to a window revealing a lobby crowded with interested parents, Cape Elizabeth seniors Reid Douty and Sean Donegan served for the match against Falmouth senior Connor Burfeind and sophomore Tom Wilberg.

“We hadn’t come close to losing a set all year,” Burfeind said, “so this was definitely a test.”

“That was the biggest adjustment,” Wilberg said. “I was used to easier stuff. This was good competition.”

No frying pan second serves. Not a lot of unforced errors. Plenty of crisp volleys and balls returned that might have been winners against less-skilled opponents.

Burfeind and Wilberg managed to force a second-set tiebreaker and won it.

They jumped to a 4-1 lead in the third set, lost three straight games, then clinched the overall victory with a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 decision that took 21/2 hours to complete.

Ten minutes later, Dimick prevailed against McCarthy after surviving a match point of his own, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.

“The third set was pretty brutal,” said Dimick, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third. “We were both pretty tired.”

The victory left Falmouth as the only unbeaten team remaining in Western Class B boys’ tennis. They won’t meet again in the regular season but seem destined to do so in the tournament. Either Falmouth or Cape Elizabeth has played for the state title in nine of the past 10 years.

“That’s by far the most competitive” match of the season, said Brogan, who completed the sweep with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Gilman.

Said McCully, looking back on his 40 seasons as head coach, “It’s been that way for years.”

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