FALMOUTH – The past few weeks have given local tennis teams a chance to establish their lineups through challenge matches.

At Falmouth High, for a girls’ team on a 57-match winning streak, such intrasquad competition is likely to be far more challenging than anything they’ll see the rest of the season, outside of the final rounds of the state singles tournament.

In a town with three country clubs, the flow of talent rarely runs dry for head coach Sandra Stone and assistant Prisca Thomson, who enter their 10th season together with four straight Class B state titles and six in the past seven years.

They lost one player from last year’s unbeaten lineup — Libby Voccola transferred to a prep school in New Hampshire — but into that void stepped freshman Olivia Leavitt, who was good enough to beat both returning singles players, seniors Annie Criscione and Analise Kump.

“Falmouth is blessed with many abundances,” Stone said with a laugh. “I have a wealth of riches. All three of them are No. 1 material.”

Criscione returned the favor and will open the season at No. 1 singles (by virtue of a 13-11 advantage in games over the freshman), followed by Leavitt and Kump, who may be Maine’s first No. 3 singles player with a resume that includes three quarterfinal, two semifinal and one championship appearance in the state singles tournament.

Aside from the singles tournament, Kump never has lost a varsity tennis match.

“I think you worry about every single match,” Kump said, “because with the wind and everything, there’s so many things that factor into what can happen that you’re always a little bit nervous and a little bit worried. Then again, you’re also pretty confident in your team. We had some close matches last year.”

Kump mentioned Greely and North Yarmouth Academy as being competitive, but like every other team that went up against Falmouth last year, both lost 5-0.

“We always have pretty strong athletes from Falmouth in general,” Kump said. “Everyone seems to always have fun, too. Everyone is laughing and having fun through the whole thing.”

In doubles, Falmouth returns the Western Maine Conference title duo of junior Abby Payson and senior Steffi Rothweiler. Sophomore Katie Ryan, whose former partner Katie Carew is recovering from a knee injury sustained at the Class A ski meet, will pair with Abbie Pratico or Marlena Lantos, both seniors, or perhaps someone else (Riley Burfeind?) from a deep junior varsity.

Kump comes out of a strong Woodlands program. Leavitt trains at Maine Pines in Brunswick. Payson picked up the game on the clay courts of Portland Country Club.

Leavitt said she’s not concerned about expectations.

They “could add pressure,” she said, “but then again, knowing that there are those girls who are consistently winning, like Abby and Steffi in doubles and Analise and Annie in singles, takes off that pressure. I know as a team we’ll do well.”

How well? Longtime Yarmouth coach Ann Harradon said she’d be surprised if Falmouth lost a set, let alone a match.

Kump mused about the aftermath of an upset.

“We work hard but I think if something like that were to happen we’d be like, ‘Wow, teams are really stepping up against us. We’ve got to step up more,’” said Kump. “If we make it (to the state final), great. I’ll be excited with whatever happens.”

As for the singles tournament, defending champion Maria Varano of Kennebunk has decided not to play as a senior. Scarborough senior Kasia Jania, the 2009 runner-up who returns after a two-year absence to high school tennis, has a wrist injury and may not be healed in time. Both plan to play in college.

That leaves runner-up Maisie Silverman, a Brunswick sophomore who recently lost in a tiebreaker to Leavitt.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Kump said. “It’s always a nice tournament. You get to watch a lot of good competition, both men’s and women’s.”

Come to think of it, the singles tournament may bear a strong resemblance to these Falmouth challenge matches. Nobody will be surprised if Criscione, Kump and Leavitt all wind up in the semifinals at Bates College.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH