Thursday, April 17, 2014
SCARBOROUGH — She's nearly 6 feet tall and plays tennis to the exclusion of every other sport. He's at least a head shorter, and as happy casting for stripers or riding a skateboard as feathering a drop volley.
Despite their obvious differences, Kasia Jania of Scarborough and Tyler Adams of Bonny Eagle serve nicely as flag bearers for a class of 2012 that already is making an impact in high school tennis.
Jania, the younger sister of the two-time state singles champion, Camille Jania, has yet to drop a game at No. 1 singles for a Scarborough team that started 7-0 before losing to Portland earlier this week. Adams, also playing in the top spot, hasn't lost a set in seven matches for a Bonny Eagle team that opened with consecutive victories after a winless season last spring, and is 3-4.
In Region 5 of the Maine Principals' Association singles tournament that begins today, Jania is seeded second behind the two-time state champion, Christine Ordway of Waynflete, and in the boys' draw, Adams is seeded sixth.
They aren't the only seeded freshmen.
Falmouth's Annie Criscione and Analise Kump are third and fifth in the girls' draw, and Addie Devine, unbeaten at No. 2 singles for McAuley, is 16th. Criscione and Kump managed to bump Hallsey Leighton, a senior who reached the singles semifinals as a freshman and final as a sophomore, down to third on the team ladder. In Region 5, Leighton is the overall fourth seed.
''I'm lucky,'' said Falmouth Coach Sandra Stone. ''I've got three aces. Any one of them could be playing No. 1 for just about any other school in the state.''
Kump is unbeaten and Criscione's only loss at No. 1 singles came against Ordway.
After today's action, based at Deering High for girls and South Portland High for boys, 16 boys and 16 girls will advance from Region 5 to the Round of 44 scheduled May 29 at Bates College in Lewiston. The state tournaments conclude June 1 with semifinals and finals, also at Bates.
Camille Jania, the 2008 state champion, now plays at Harvard. Kasia is taller and lankier, but with the same sprightly bounce to her step and the same easy smile.
''She's amazing,'' said Biddeford senior Sam Tardif, who lost to Kasia a week ago and to Camille a year ago by 6-0, 6-0 scores. ''Senior year, nobody's going to be able to touch her.''
After spending time with her sister and the rest of the Scarborough team as an eighth-grader, Kasia made an easy transition to high school tennis, which, for her, holds none of the pressures of USTA tournament play.
''Here you can go out and have fun,'' she said. ''You can laugh and smile on the courts. I really enjoy it.''
In addition to the veterans who played on the team Camille captained a year ago, Scarborough also recruited a pair of soccer players, senior Allie Pastore and junior Crysti Tsujiura, to play doubles.
''They have great foot skills so they get to all the balls,'' said Kasia, making a point that, ''it's easier to make an athlete into a tennis player than it is to make a tennis player into an athlete.''
Adams, the Bonny Eagle freshman, happens to be both, although it may not be apparent at first glance.
''He wears glasses when he plays tennis and he's not incredibly strong,'' said Bonny Eagle co-coach Tim Gleason. ''But in tennis you don't really need to generate incredible amounts of speed. You need to be accurate and able to move your opponent around.''
In a recent match at Deering Oaks against Portland High junior Jordan Alexander, Adams showed he's much more than a baseliner. He served and volleyed, hit drop shots and always seemed in control of the 6-1, 6-1 match.
''He'll hit a shot, setting up a shot three shots down the road,'' said co-coach Hossein Miremadi. ''He really works to set up a winner. You won't see a lot of players in high school who have the ability to set up a point that way.''
Adams learned to play tennis on clay courts in Buxton and refined his game playing in father-and-son tournaments. Adams and his dad have reached the final of the Pilot Pen Family Classic in New Haven, Conn., five times and won four.
Tyler also loves to play golf, fish and ride his four-wheeler and skateboard. He played baseball in junior high and sports a ball cap on the tennis court.
''He's not your private-lesson type of player,'' Gleason said. ''He hasn't played in a lot of tournaments. But he is an incredibly gifted tennis player.''
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Monday, May,11, 2009. Bonny Eagle freshman tennis player Tyler Adams during a match in Portland's Deering Oaks today.