LEWISTON — A physics test and a skiing injury conspired to keep Katie Carew, a senior at Falmouth High, from attending the Western Maine tennis finals last year.
She made the most of her return Wednesday afternoon at the Wallach Tennis Center at Bates College.
Playing with her old partner, Carew and Katie Ryan swept through their first doubles match against Cape Elizabeth without dropping a game and Falmouth cruised to a 5-0 victory despite the absence of state singles champion Olivia Leavitt.
Falmouth (15-0) will face Eastern Maine champion Waterville for the Class B state title Saturday afternoon in Orono.
“It’s so great to be part of a team again,” said Carew, who played much of the season with freshman Caroline Ray before Leavitt’s biceps injury forced a change in the playoff lineup. “Especially this team, because we’re all really close and we all play with each other (in the offseason). It’s good to finish senior year with such a good group of friends.”
The other state championship matches for Saturday are Portland against Brunswick in Class A and Waynflete against Van Buren in Class C.
Following Falmouth’s victory, top-seeded Portland (15-0) swept singles and split doubles to beat No. 2 Scarborough (13-2) for the second time this season, 4-1. Last month, the Bulldogs won 3-2, again with a singles sweep from Annette Denekas, Sophie Hulbert and Margot Andreasen.
Wednesday’s clincher, however, came from the second doubles tandem of senior Lily Bruenjes and sophomore Alyssa Vaccaro, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, who were playing together for the first time because of a late-season foot injury that limited the mobility of Bruenjes, who had been playing first doubles.
“I think we were really nervous coming into it,” Vaccaro said. “We just had to keep talking and staying positive instead of getting frustrated.”
Andreasen won 6-4, 6-0 at third singles, an improvement over a closer 6-3, 7-5 victory last month.
“I just tried to keep the pressure on and volley more and hit more overheads,” she said. “The first time we played, I kept hitting overheads into the net.”
Andreasen said she worked specifically on that shot during practices, heeding Coach Bonnie Moran’s advice to point at the ball with her free hand to hone in on its descent.
“We’re not just waving to the crowd,” Moran told Andreasen. “We’re tracking it.”
Earlier in the day, No. 6 Waynflete (10-5) made quick work of No. 9 North Yarmouth Academy (9-6) in the Class C final, taking all but three games outside of the No. 1 singles match in a 4-1 win.
The Panthers, who split 3-2 matches against two-time defending state champion Waynflete during the regular season, bid adieu to four of their top seven players on Tuesday because of an academic trip to France.
“It’s too bad, because we had good matches against them,” said Waynflete Coach Linda Cohen. “You’d like to have your best-skilled players who were there during the season.”
Waynflete senior Phoebe Suva and junior Allie Armstrong won handily in singles, and the tandems of Abby Cough and Sophie Raffel and Nina Flight and Jean Chen swept doubles, both at 6-0, 6-0.
“It brings out the true meaning of team,” said NYA Coach Lorena Coffin. “It’s a good experience for all the girls.”
NYA’s lone victory came at No. 1 singles, where freshman Lena Rich outlasted Waynflete junior Emily White, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
Falmouth’s biggest scare Wednesday came at second doubles, where Ray and junior Riley Burfeind trailed 4-1 in the opening set against Cape Elizabeth seniors Elle Richard and Emily Tall before rallying to win 7-5, 6-3. Never mind a match, Falmouth hasn’t lost a set in two years. The Yachtsmen have won five consecutive state titles and seven of the last eight.
“We definitely feel some pressure,” said Falmouth senior Abby Payson, who won 6-1, 6-1 at third singles in her first playoff match without a partner. “I think we had a lot of confidence just because we know our team is really deep.”
Freshman Julia Brogan and senior Libby Voccola also won singles matches. Falmouth’s winning streak stands at 92 matches.
“We know that we have Waterville coming up, and that will be tough because they’re really good,” Payson said. “But we just try to go out and do our best and see what happens.”
EASTERN CLASS A: Defending state champion Brunswick lost only one game in the three singles matches on the way to a 5-0 victory over Mt. Blue in the regional final at the University of Maine.
The second-seeded Dragons (15-0) took 6-0, 6-0 victories at No. 2 and No. 3 singles with Leah Soloway and Ali Stankiewicz, as well as at No. 1 doubles with Samiera MacMullen and Hannah Bobker.
Brunswick’s second doubles team of Ari Kasabian and Elizabeth Day recorded a 6-3, 7-5 win, and Maisie Silverman, the state singles runner-up, wrapped up the shutout with a 6-1, 6-0 win over MacKenzie Conlogue of No. 4 Mt. Blue (11-4).
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: