Thursday, April 24, 2014
HAMPDEN - The morning after his high school graduation, Ben Shapiro of Waynflete rubbed eyes groggy from four hours of sleep, picked up a double espresso at a Waterville coffee shop and proceeded to Hampden for what has become an annual rite of spring.
Shapiro celebrated another Class C state tennis title, the fourth of his high school career and the sixth straight for the Flyers, who beat Eastern Maine champion George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill 5-0 inside the cozy Bangor Tennis Club.
In the Class C girls' final Saturday afternoon, Waynflete turned back a spirited challenge by Van Buren to win a third straight state title, 4-1.
Originally scheduled for outdoor courts at the University of Maine, the tournament moved inside to a four-court facility in Hampden, with starting times adjusted earlier and later to accommodate six matches in succession.
"Most of us were up pretty late (Friday) night," Shapiro said of fellow seniors Patrick Ordway and Jon Tao. "I decided Starbucks was the solution rather than sleeping."
Shapiro, who two years ago survived five championship points before rallying to lead Waynflete past George Stevens, breezed through his match at No. 3 singles, 6-1, 6-2.
Classmate Patrick Ordway won by shutout at No. 1, and sophomore Isaac Salas won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 to complete a singles sweep for Waynflete (13-3).
The boys' match also marked the end of the Ordway era at Waynflete, where either Christine, Eric and/or Patrick has played in the state finals for eight years in a row.
Patrick, who will continue his career at Bates College, beat Johnny Xue in the state championship final for the third straight year. Ordway said the match was closer than the 6-0, 6-0 score indicated.
"We had some great games," Ordway said. "His serve is bigger than mine so it's always a challenge."
The Waynflete-GSA final was less competitive than in the previous two years, in part because of the mid-year transfer of GSA's No. 2 singles player, Jasper Adam, who had taken the first set from Salas last June.
The Eagles (13-3) also replaced three seniors in their doubles lineup, as did Waynflete. On Saturday, Waynflete won with senior Jon Tao and sophomore Clancy Mitchell at No. 1 (7-6 (5), 6-2) and with sophomore Stephen Epstein and Misha Linnehand at No. 2, (6-4, 7-6 (2)).
George Stevens has been the state runner-up seven of the last eight years.
"If you have any chance to beat them, you have to beat them from the bottom of the ladder," said GSA Coach Larry Gray. "They're a very, very strong team."
In the girls' match, Waynflete junior Allie Armstrong won handily at third singles to even the score at 1-1. Senior Abby Cough and Sophie Raffel rallied for a 2-6, 6-0 (10-3) victory to split the doubles after Van Buren won in straight sets at No. 2 doubles.
Cough said she was too "rigid" and "serious" in the first set, and finally heeded Raffel's advice to have fun. Oh, and during the break between sets, Waynflete Coach Linda Cohen cautioned against trying to pass tall Van Buren left-hander Felisha Bouchard down the alley.
Wait, she's left-handed? No wonder! Neither Cough nor Raffel had realized.
"We were so in this little nerve-zone," Raffel said.
Senior Phoebe Suva provided the clincher, also in a tiebreaker. She won 6-4, 5-7 (10-7) at No. 2 singles after serving for the match at 5-4 in the second.
Emily White completed the singles sweep with a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 1.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: