PORTLAND – When Cheverus and McAuley get together for any type of sporting event, there’s a little something extra in the air.

Throw in a pair of undefeated records, six singles players — three from each school — who had yet to taste individual defeat, and the probable top seed in the Western Class A tournament hanging in the balance, and their girls’ tennis match Wednesday generated plenty of interest.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” said Cheverus Coach Erin Ovalle. “We’ve been looking forward to it since last year.”

McAuley wound up sweeping singles and splitting doubles for a 4-1 victory under overcast skies in Payson Park to leave the Lions (6-0) with the only perfect record in the SMAA. Cheverus (6-1) earned its lone point from the first doubles team of Stephanie Maxsimic and Emily Gibson.

“They have a much tougher lineup than the teams we’ve played so far,” said Addie Devine of McAuley, who won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles over her longtime friend, Maria Cianchette. “We really appreciate the tougher matches. They bring us together more as a team because it’s every match that counts.”

McAuley freshman Devri Ramsey, who reeled off 60 straight games to begin her high school career, dispatched Abby Harrison of Cheverus 6-1, 6-1 in a match that was closer than the score indicated.

Cheverus cut the lead in half with a 6-1, 6-4 victory at first doubles. Those three matches ended before McAuley freshman Ally Strawn and Caty Galligan of Cheverus decided their first set, which, in a battle of baseline attrition, lasted an hour and 22 minutes.

“It may have taken such a long time because I made a lot of errors and I didn’t read her game right,” said Strawn, who led 3-1 and trailed 6-5 before forcing a tiebreaker and pulling away for a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory. “Rather than play my own game, I began to play her game.”

Strawn also rolled her left ankle early in the match, leaving her tentative. Galligan’s consistent returns also played a factor and made for lengthy points.

“I was kind of on edge the first set,” Strawn said. “When I started to play my game, which was being more aggressive and moving her around more, it worked a lot better.”

Strawn’s clincher made the outcome of second doubles moot. Even so, the Cheverus team of Conley Dion and Gillian Coates rallied to win a second-set tiebreaker after dropping the first set 6-2 to Kate Poulin and Caitlyn Connolly. Because the overall match was in its third hour and McAuley already had clinched, the teams agreed to play another tiebreaker in lieu of a third set, and McAuley won 7-4.

“This is great,” McAuley Coach Joe Kilmartin said, “but it’s what happens in the playoffs (that matters most).”

Indeed, Cheverus took an unbeaten record and the top seed into last spring’s tournament. The Lions were seeded second. Both were upset victims in the semifinals. Besides, once-beaten Portland, which lost 3-2 to Cheverus, still looms large on McAuley’s schedule.

“If we do lose in the regular season, we’ll know what we have to work on,” Devine said, “and we’ll learn from the experience.”

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

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