LEWISTON – That Gorham High senior Joe Bennett ended his doubles match with a successful backhand topspin lob seemed appropriate.
After all, Bennett had arrived at the Wallach Tennis Center at Bates College two hours earlier Wednesday afternoon with no chance of hitting such a shot.
Before leaving Gorham, the Rams warmed up on their home courts and a string had broken on Bennett’s racket. His backup model was tensioned at 61 pounds of pressure rather than his usual 56, and it took him a while to adjust.
His groundstrokes found the net. His attempted lobs wound up as overhead smashes for Kennebunk’s Ben Skillin or David Cavanagro.
Eventually, however, Bennett and partner Riley Perkins delivered the clinching point in Gorham’s 4-1 victory over Kennebunk in the Western Class A boys’ tennis final: 0-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“Yeah, I figured that one out,” said Perkins. “But (Skillin and Cavanagro) played well in the first set.”
The defending state champion Rams face a rematch in Saturday’s Class A state final against Bangor, a 4-1 winner over Hampden Academy in Eastern Maine.
Also scheduled for Saturday are a Class B final between Cape Elizabeth and Mt. Desert Island and, for the third year in a row, a Class C final between Waynflete and George Stevens Academy.
The only one-sided match in the Western Class A final came at first doubles, where Gorham’s Mike Lubelczyk and Tom Susi won 6-1, 6-3.
In three competitive singles matches, Gorham’s Ryan Gilbert (6-4, 6-3 at No. 2) and Tom Brent (7-6 (5), 6-4 at No. 3) and Kennebunk senior Josh Behrens (5-7, 6-1, 6-1) all emerged victorious.
For Behrens, last on the court, his victory not only averted a shutout but capped a high school career that left him unbeaten in four years of team play.
Earlier in the day in Class B, top-seeded Cape Elizabeth continued its unbeaten season with a 5-0 dismantling of No. 8 York in which the Wildcats (9-7) managed to win only eight games — half of them at first doubles.
Matt Gilman, Peter Higgins and Satchel McCarthy won in singles. In doubles, Mike Mills and Sam Sherman teamed up for one victory and Eli Breed and Luke Gilman the other.
Matt Gilman in singles and Breed and Luke Gilman in doubles won 6-0, 6-0.
“We hit the ball pretty well,” said York Coach Pete Webster. “Cape is just that much better. My guys gave a great effort. They showed that we belong here.
“We might not be up at the pinnacle with Cape, but we can certainly play and hit with them.”
The Capers were coming off an emotional victory over two-time defending state champion Falmouth in a regional semifinal Saturday that may have had them looking past the Wildcats, who had knocked off No. 1 Lincoln Academy for the third time in five years.
“We were still focused,” said Higgins, a junior who won 6-2, 6-1 against York’s Jack Lawlor. “Crazier things have happened.”
Indeed, said Cape Elizabeth Coach Andy Strout, who last month notched his 500th career victory and now stands at 504-69.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “You can get hit by a swarm of bees. People can get hurt. People can get sick. People can get upset.”
None of that happened Wednesday, where the higher seeds all prevailed.
In the morning match, fourth-seeded Waynflete beat No. 6 North Yarmouth Academy for the third time this season, 4-1.
The first two meetings had been shutouts, but NYA senior Ryan Walters and junior Max Maurer pulled out a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory Wednesday at first doubles.
Waynflete’s Patrick Ordway, Isaac Salas and Ben Shapiro won in singles. Jon Tao and Peter Michalakas won at second doubles.
“You’ve got to go in with the same mentality as if you had lost 5-0,” said Ordway, a senior captain. “They’re a strong team.”
Ordway defeated fellow senior Burke Paxton 6-1, 6-3 in their fourth meeting of the spring.
“The scores were similar but it’s always a close match,” Ordway said. “I train with Burke a lot. I know his game and he knows mine, so it’s a good match every time.”
The Flyers will seek their sixth straight Class C state title Saturday against George Stevens.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: