Steve Eddy, second-year coach of the Scarborough girls’ tennis team, walked into the first gathering of the season and did a double take.
The place was packed.
“We usually get four or five (girls) per class,” Eddy said. “When we did the team meeting I was astounded because the room was full.”
Eddy doesn’t cut, so all 18 freshmen remain in the program. Although only one of them has cracked the varsity lineup — Megan Nathanson — Eddy sees great promise in the coming years.
Of course this season is packed with potential as well.
The Red Storm came within two points in the individual match that decided a 3-2 loss to McAuley in the Western Class A semifinals last spring, and the Lions went on to beat Portland by the same score to reach the state final. There, Brunswick emerged victorious, also by 3-2.
Seven seniors have led Scarborough to a 3-0 start this spring, including a 4-1 decision over SMAA rival Cheverus in which Nathanson rallied from a 4-1 second-set deficit to win 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 singles.
“I didn’t know her before,” Eddy said. “I’m impressed with the mental aspect of her game. By not giving in, by sticking to her game plan, (Nathanson) came back to win it.”
In that same match, Mikaela Gove came back to win at No. 2 singles, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Scarborough swept doubles in all three matches it played last week.
Another SMAA school that prides itself on doubles depth is Portland, which also won its first three matches. The teams are scheduled to meet each other Monday at Deering Oaks in Portland.
“They’re the team we look at every year because they constantly have depth,” Eddy said. “Some teams are successful because they get three singles points, but Portland is strong from top to bottom.”
PORTLAND’S TOP singles player, Sophie Hulbert, sat out Friday’s 5-0 victory against Sanford with a knee injury.
Annette Denekas, who played doubles last spring, moved into the No. 1 slot without a hitch. Margot Andreasen, who played No. 2 last season, is playing No. 3 this spring.
“They’re really, all three of them, very close,” said Portland Coach Bonnie Moran, whose roster shrunk to 30 players this spring, down from 40.
She splits up practices so she can spend more time with those still learning the game, including five girls who are outright beginners.
“It’s an investment of time,” Moran said. “It pays off in the end.”
WINDHAM COACH Wayne Martin has taken over the girls’ team as well as the boys, after learning the expected girls’ coach declined the position three weeks before the start of the season. Martin practices both teams together, and picks and chooses which matches to attend.
“I think the girls like practicing with the boys,” he said. “They get pushed a lot more.”
Assistant coach Jenna Willey, a Windham graduate now finishing her studies at Southern Maine, looks after the other team when matches are at different sites.
Is it working? Both teams entered the week with 3-0 records.
THE TEAM tournaments will finish up in Orono at the University of Maine courts after being held in recent years at Colby and Bates.
The tournament organizer, Cooper Higgins, the athletic director at Falmouth High, said graduation and alumni events at Bates and Colby made scheduling more challenging.
The state singles tournament will have rounds of 48 and 32 at Lewiston High on May 25 (a Saturday) before the succeeding rounds move to Bates, with the quarterfinals on Memorial Day, and semifinals and finals on May 29 — the day after the team tournament begins regional preliminary rounds.
Higgins wasn’t the only person scrambling for courts this spring.
Construction at South Portland High has swallowed up the courts, leaving girls’ coach Liz Scifres and boys’ coach Tom Hyland alternating weeks between the Eastern Prom in Portland and courts at Cape Elizabeth High (after the Capers are through with them).
“From what I understand, we’ll be getting all seven courts back next season,” Scifres said. “We’re trying to stay positive because I’m very supportive of the project overall, and we’re so grateful that the community gets those seven courts back.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: