WATERVILLE – Waynflete sophomore Ben Shapiro told himself to forget the score, to play each point in isolation and concentrate on getting the tennis ball back across the net.

Of course, staring into the barrel of triple-match point under the watchful gaze and enthusiastic responses of every other player from both Waynflete and George Stevens Academy and all spectators in attendance at the Colby College tennis courts can be a trifle distracting.

“That was the hardest,” Shapiro said. “That was when it was hard to ignore the score.”

With the Class C boys’ title hanging in the balance, Shapiro somehow dodged five championship points and rallied past GSA freshman Alexander Heilner for a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory, giving Waynflete its fourth straight state title Saturday afternoon.

Under overcast skies and occasional spits of rain, Waynflete swept the boys’ and girls’ state titles against George Stevens of Blue Hill. The boys won 3-2 and the girls, seeded eighth in the West, won 4-1.

“This was four years in the making,” said Linda Cohen, the Waynflete girls’ coach. “Every year was a step closer.”

Sophomore Kaitlyn Thompson, freshman Emily White and senior Maddie High swept the singles matches for Waynflete (12-4). The clinching victory, however, came from the first doubles team of senior Elena Britos and junior Hilary Niles, who won 7-6 (3), 6-2.

“It’s just crazy,” said Niles, who rowed crew last spring and played lacrosse the year before. “I had no idea we could get this far. It was just awesome, every step of the journey.”

Waynflete’s boys also took a peripatetic path. Sophomore Patrick Ordway, the state singles champion, won, 6-3, 6-1. George Stevens responded with victories at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. Waynflete’s Jonathan Tao and Sam Martin knotted the match at 2-all with a 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 2 doubles.

That left Shapiro and Heilner all alone in a match that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes. Heilner overcame a 5-4 deficit to win the first set. Shapiro jumped to a 5-2 lead in the second and held on to force a third between two evenly-matched opponents.

It was love-40, 4-5 in the third when Shapiro somehow managed to hold serve and make it 5-all. Shapiro then broke serve, but it was Heilner’s turn to escape from triple match point. He forced the game to deuce, but Shapiro finally converted his fourth match point to give Waynflete (11-5) the title.

“What a gutsy performance,” said Waynflete Coach Jeff Madore, “just to hang on there.”

“At that point, it was kind of like we both won,” said Shapiro, who embraced Heilner at the net and then, emotionally drained, buried his face in his hands. “The winner could have lost more points than the other person. It was just the luck of who won that last key point. It really wasn’t about who won the match.”

Heilner said losing the five match points “took a lot out of me.” Still, he came off the court with his head held high after surviving three match points on Shapiro’s serve.

“He just kept getting them back,” Heilner said of attempting to close out the match. “I couldn’t put it away.” 

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

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