LEWISTON — The backhand shot was so steeply angled that Olivia Leavitt found herself on an adjacent court after running it down. Quickly, Leavitt reversed course, raced back to the opposite side of her own court and chased down a second apparent winner.
Leavitt not only wound up winning that improbable point, but in doing so she drove home a deeper message.
“I’m here. I’m fit. I’m going to get everything,” she said. “I’m not going to give up.”
Indeed, the top-seeded junior from Falmouth rallied from two-game deficits in both the second and third sets to overcome second-seeded Maisie Silverman of Brunswick 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and win the Maine Principals’ Association girls’ tennis state singles tournament Monday afternoon at Bates College.
It was the second straight title for Leavitt and fourth straight championship appearance for Silverman, a senior who won the 2012 crown.
“It was a battle,” Silverman said. “I feel like it could have gone either way, but she was there. She fought for it.”
The match lasted 2 hours and 56 minutes, including breaks between sets. By contrast, Falmouth senior Brendan McCarthy (Leavitt’s prom date) needed only 41 minutes to dispatch Mt. Ararat freshman Nick Mathieu 6-1, 6-2 in a boys’ final between the second and fourth seeds.
Mathieu won the opening two points of his match with a forehand winner and a McCarthy double fault, but last spring’s runner-up quickly righted himself, held serve and raced to a 5-0 lead.
The boys’ top seed, two-time finalist Justin Brogan, is a friend and classmate of McCarthy. Brogan watched the match with crutches and a bandaged left ankle, having withdrawn from the tournament in Friday’s second round after reinjuring his ankle with a 4-2 lead on unseeded Luke Gilman of Cape Elizabeth.
Gilman won two more matches before falling to Mathieu 6-2, 6-1 in Monday morning’s semifinals on a warm, blustery day at Bates. In the other semifinal, McCarthy defeated No. 3 Isaac Salas, a Waynflete junior, 6-3, 6-2.
In Monday morning’s girls’ semifinals, Leavitt breezed past fifth-seeded Waterville senior Colleen O’Donnell 6-0, 6-0 and Silverman dispatched No. 3 Bethany Hammond, a freshman at St. Dominic, 6-0, 6-3.
That set up a rematch of the 2013 final, won indoors by Leavitt, 6-1, 6-1, but not without some verbal sparring when Leavitt objected to an audible self-exhortation from Silverman before a point had ended. Two years ago, Silverman won a three-set semifinal against Leavitt.
On Monday afternoon, their competitive natures flared anew, as each questioned line calls by the other.
“I think because of the outcome last year and the pressure with everyone watching, I was more nervous than I should feel,” Silverman said. “I feel like I really didn’t play the way I should have and I was falling more into her strategy and just looping it back, when I should have been aggressive and put the ball away.”
Silverman dictated the pace for much of the early going and won the first set with her fourth consecutive service break, then jumped ahead 2-0 in the second set as Leavitt whacked her racket in frustration against the ground and, two points later, had to get a new one after breaking it.
Mixing cut shots with topspin, Leavitt was able to climb back into contention through long rallies. Twice in the second set she recovered from 15-40 deficits to hold serve and survived three game points before closing out the second set to force a third.
“Just believing and trusting myself,” she said. “I literally told myself before every point: Trust. Believe.”
With fresh tennis balls in the third, Silverman came out blazing. She held at deuce and broke Leavitt at 30 to take a 2-0 lead, was broken herself, and then used a backhand pass to jump ahead 3-1.
Still, Leavitt refused to wilt. A backhand stab volley paved the way for a run of five straight games. She held serve for the first time in the set to make it 3-3 after running down those two apparent winners from Silverman.
On the first championship point, Leavitt pounced on a soft first serve and Silverman’s ensuing forehand sailed beyond the baseline. Leavitt leaped with delight, clenching her left fist in triumph.
“I started tearing up a little,” Leavitt said after falling behind a set. “That showed me I really wanted this and that I needed to fight more and execute better and not give up.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or