SOUTH PORTLAND – The South Portland Red Riots girls’ tennis team improved to 3-3 on the season Monday after sweeping all five matches against the Westbrook Blue Blazes (0-5-1).

It was the Red Riots first win since April 27, after losing two in a row, to the McAuley and Sanford.

In what might have been the last match for the Red Riots before moving to newly renovated courts, Coach Elizabeth Scifres’ squad made quick work of the struggling Blue Blazes.

“I feel like they did a great job today,” said Scifres. “I think they really have come together as a team and they worked really, really hard and they kept their focus.”

Riots No. 2 Kera Snyder won her match 6-2, 6-1, as did third-seed Jenna Susi took her match 6-1, 6-1. Paige Doane and Melissa Davis also won their doubles session in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.

The doubles pairing of Claudia Ouellete and Michelle Foster lost their second set before bouncing back in the final set to win their match, 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

Long after the Red Riots had wrapped up the win, South Portland’s Brianna Woodward and Westbrook’s Caitlyn Waldron remained on the court.

The No. 1 seeds for both teams captured the attention of the spectators as they took part in a marathon match.

Despite winning in straight sets – 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 – Woodward was constantly pushed to the brink by Waldron.

“(Waldron) has such a strong mindset whether she is ahead or behind,” said Blue Blazes’ coach Catherine Bois. “I think that sets a good example for everyone on the team to follow.”

Waldron had leads of 5-4 and 6-5 in the first set against Woodward before being forced into a tiebreaker. Waldron would again have Woodward on the ropes in the second set before Woodward reeled off three straight games to win 7-5.

“For (Waldron) it was a very evenly matched opponent,” said Bois. “They both had the same strengths, and in a game like that it’s just a matter of who can get the ball over the net one more time. Overall, I was really impressed with her performance and really glad she hung in there, even though she didn’t win.”

Woodward’s gritty performance left Scifres with nothing but praise as she refused to let fatigue set in at any point during the match.

“(Woodward)’s actually a really fit player,” said Scifres. “She is a very young No. 1, this is actually her first season playing singles, and to jump in from playing doubles to No. 1 singles is a really difficult thing. I think she is really getting her head around it and handling it really well.”

While Woodward and Waldron’s match stood out, Scifres considered Monday’s performance to be a total team effort.

“The team can win 3-2 or 4-1 but everybody came together and won 5-0, so it’s really nice to see,” the Riots coach said.

South Portland’s Brianna Woodward delivers a backhand during her match against Westbrook’s Caitlyn Waldron on Monday. Woodward, in her first year as a singles player and No. 1 seed, won the marathon match 7-6 (7-2), 7-5. (Staff photos by Nate Boroyan)
Westbrook’s Caitlyn Waldron prepares to return a shot from South Portland’s Brianna Woodward during play Monday. Waldron pushed Woodward to the limit but fell short in straigt sets, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.

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