HAMPDEN – She returned to tennis after a recuperating from a knee injury on the ski slopes, and that was nice. Winning every match, that was good, too.
But what Falmouth senior Katie Carew really wanted, and rarely even sniffed, presented itself in the final match of her high school career.
A true test.
“It brings out the athlete in us,” Carew said after rallying with freshman partner Caroline Ray from three games down to win the clinching point of a 3-2 Class B state championship match against Waterville Saturday inside the Bangor Tennis Center.
Carew and Ray trailed 1-4 in the second set before pulling out a 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory at second doubles against Waterville’s Lauren Hallenbeck and Emily Dufour to give Falmouth a sixth straight Class B title.
“I am so sweaty,” Carew said. “It really tests you to face that kind of competition. It’s exciting. You don’t know the outcome, and that makes it all the more fun and requires you to really bring your best.”
The Class B boys’ state final was not nearly as competitive. Cape Elizabeth (16-0) swept Mt. Desert Island (15-1) without dropping more than two games in any set.
Matt Gilman, Peter Higgins and Satchel McCarthy won their singles matches by a combined score of 36-6. Mike Mills and Sam Sherman won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles, and Eli Breed and Luke Gilman won 6-2, 6-2 at second doubles.
The championship was the 24th for Cape Elizabeth Coach Andy Strout, whose total includes 10 girls’ titles.
“We said all along that we’re a confident team,” Higgins said. “Mr. Strout kept us focused.”
The Falmouth girls needed no reminders against a Waterville squad appearing in its third straight title match.
“Nobody else can give us this kind of competition,” said Falmouth Coach Sandra Stone. “Kudos to them.”
Falmouth jumped to a 2-0 lead with senior Libby Voccola (6-4, 6-2) at No. 3 singles and the first doubles pair of senior Abby Payson and junior Katie Ryan (6-1, 6-0).
Knowing that Julia Brogan had her hands full with fellow freshman Tiffany Suchanek of Waterville at No. 2 singles and that singles state champion Olivia Leavitt — absent from previous playoff action because of a strained biceps tendon — would be serving underhanded at No. 1 singles gave Carew and Ray extra urgency.
Playing second doubles for a program sporting a 93-match winning streak means Carew rarely faced adversity. At 1-4 in the second set with the prospect of a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the match — and possibly the championship — a knowing look passed between them.
“We’ve never been down that much,” Carew said. “We knew we were not going to win with how we were playing.”
Ray had made up a similar deficit with partner Riley Burfeind in a regional final match against Cape Elizabeth.
“She said, ‘Riley and I did it. You and I can do it,’” Carew said. “That’s when the switch went on.”
At No. 2 singles, Suchanek reversed the outcome of her singles tourney loss to Brogan by winning a match tiebreaker 10-5 after a 4-6, 7-5 set split. Suchanek’s win became moot when Ray and Carew forced a set tiebreaker and won it 7-3.
“It’s a great way to end my career,” Carew said.
Leavitt won her first three games against Colleen O’Donnell before the Waterville junior figured out Leavitt lacked a forehand. It was 3-2 in Leavitt’s favor when she retired rather than exacerbate her injury, knowing Carew and Ray had come through.
“I decided to play because it’s a team sport and it’s states and I wanted to be a part of it,” Leavitt said. “I just tried to do the best I could.”
Waterville Coach Jill Cristan said her Panthers have come a long way since getting blown out by Falmouth two years ago.
“Three-two against Falmouth is a respectable score,” she said. “I think we gave them a run for their money. I’m so proud of my girls.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: