With three country clubs and two indoor facilities in town, Falmouth’s dominance in schoolgirl tennis is understandable.
After six consecutive Class B state titles, Falmouth is moving up to Class A, and the championship reign shows no signs of slowing.
What had been missing in recent years was an individual state champ. Only Lindsay Whipple (1983-85) and Holly Steele (1975) had taken that title back to Falmouth, both before any current players had taken their first breath, much less their first volley.
Enter Olivia Leavitt.
A sophomore seeded second in the singles tournament, Leavitt swept through the bracket without dropping a set, dispatching senior teammate Libby Voccola 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals and Brunswick junior Maisie Silverman, the defending champion, 6-1, 6-1 in the final.
For doing so, Leavitt is our Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year for girls’ tennis.
“I was very impressed with the way she played at the (singles) state championships,” said Falmouth Coach Sandra Stone. “Very often when (top players) miss a shot they get disgusted with themselves, as if they’re going to go through the whole match without dropping a point or making a mistake, but whenever something would happen … she was able to smile and maintain her composure on the court.”
Leavitt’s first successful sport was equestrian. She was in second grade when older sister Lauren won national recognition with her horse, Lazerbeam. Olivia had a pony named Wizard and they were best in the state for her level, but she stopped horsing around at age 9.
Both mom and dad played tennis, as did her paternal grandfather.
“I remember my mom brought me to a summer camp and I just loved it,” Leavitt said. “I like the feeling of just hitting the ball, and I would say I’m a very competitive person.”
She dabbled in track, soccer and Nordic skiing, but has concentrated on tennis in high school.
For the past year she’s been training with local pro Ben Cox, and said her forehand and serve have become much stronger.
Leavitt was Falmouth’s No. 3 singles player as a freshman, but reached the singles semifinals before falling 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 to Silverman.
This spring Leavitt moved up to No. 1 and settled into a leadership role. She made the team’s newcomers feel welcome right from the start by distributing personalized luggage tags with the team name and a ship’s wheel logo for their preseason trip to Hilton Head, S.C.
Before the Class B state final against Waterville, Leavitt collected her teammates’ rackets and, with the stringing machine she received for Christmas, stenciled a blue F on the strings (except for Voccola, whose dark strings required a yellow F). With help from her mom and some fabric paint, Leavitt decorated white ball caps to read Maine State Champs for distribution after Falmouth’s victory.
After missing earlier playoff matches, Leavitt retired five games into the finals once Falmouth had clinched, not wanting to exacerbate a strained tendon. Last winter she missed four months because of a wrist injury and found she didn’t like the sideline.
“It made me think about how much I really like tennis,” she said, “and what a big part of my life it is.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: