Portland High girls’ tennis coach Bonnie Moran bumped into Deering High boys’ tennis coach Regina Morton on Sunday and they exchanged knowing glances.

They are in similar situations, having guided their teams through an undefeated season to earn the top seed in the Western Maine Class A tournaments. Even so, both approach Thursday morning’s regional finals at Bates College in Lewiston as decided underdogs to Class A newcomer Falmouth.

“Actually, it’s kind of nice being the underdog,” said Moran, whose Bulldogs came within a tiebreaker of Brunswick in last spring’s Class A state championship. “All during the season, we were expected to win. Now it’s a different story, but I love the way my kids play and I love their attitude. They’re going to go in there fighting.”

The Portland girls and Deering boys are 14-0 this spring, all against familiar SMAA competition. The Falmouth girls and Falmouth boys both went 12-0 in a Western Maine Conference slate before shutting out a pair of SMAA foes in the regional quarters and semis. The Falmouth girls, winners of six straight Class B titles and 107 consecutive matches, haven’t lost a set all spring, much less a match.

The Falmouth boys are not quite as dominant, having been pushed to 3-2 by Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete and persevering in the playoffs without No. 1 singles player Justin Brogan, who has been out with an ankle injury since late May.

Of course, when your No. 2 player is MPA singles state champion Brendan McCarthy, you don’t exactly collapse at the first sign of trouble. In the regional semifinals, Scarborough reached 5-all in three of four doubles sets and extended freshman Peter Stegemann at third singles before falling 6-1, 6-3.

Moran said about the only hope of beating Falmouth is to sweep doubles and hope for an upset in singles.

“It could easily be 5-0,” Moran said. “But my doubles are playing tough. We’re not going in there thinking we’re losing. I really want them to relax and play hard.”

Ben Caswell teaches physical education at Greely High, which hangs banners in the gymnasium and pool for nearly every sport offered at the school, with one exception.


Falmouth’s ascension to Class A left the Class B girls’ field wide open.

“At the beginning of this year, we definitely talked about the opportunity that was put before us,” said Caswell, in his second year as coach of the girls’ team. “We just need to go out and take it.”

Seeded first in Western Class B, the Rangers (13-1) advanced to Thursday’s finals against No. 6 Spruce Mountain (9-4) by virtue of a 3-2 victory over No. 5 Cape Elizabeth in which freshman Kathryn Pare rallied to a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory at second singles.

Earlier this season, Pare rallied from a 5-0 deficit to tie a set she eventually lost 7-5 to Waynflete.

“Getting backed into a corner makes her play even better,” said Caswell, who also has juniors at third singles (Anna Collins) and first doubles (Mia Lambert and Jessie Hoffman) who are unbeaten against everyone but Falmouth.

Greely and Spruce Mountain have no common opponents, although the Rangers scrimmaged a St. Dominic team that beat the Phoenix.

“It’s one big question mark,” Caswell said. “But it doesn’t matter how your opponent plays. It’s how you play.”

A wet weather forecast prompted the MPA to postpone four of the six Eastern Maine tennis finals scheduled for Tuesday at Colby College in Waterville. The Class C matches are still Tuesday, but at Champions indoor facility in Waterville beginning at 10 a.m. On Wednesday at Colby, the Class A matches will begin at 10 a.m. with Class B girls scheduled for 1 p.m. and Class B boys for 4 p.m.

The Western Maine finals are scheduled Thursday at Bates College, with Class A matches beginning at 9:15 a.m., Class C matches at 12:45 p.m. and Class B matches at 4:15 p.m.

State finals are scheduled in the same A-C-B order Saturday at Bates.

This year the state softball, baseball and lacrosse championship games will be played June 21, six days later than they were last year

Maine Principals Association Assistant Executive Director Mike Burnham said sport season dates are always set based on three days: The fall season ends the weekend before Thanksgiving, the winter season is set based on Presidents Day being the Monday of tournament week, and the spring season begins by working back from Patriots Day.

“Everybody thinks we just arbitrarily set the dates but you could look out 25 years from now and find those three dates and figure out when seasons begin and end,” Burnham said. “This year actually all three (dates) fell late and looking at next year, the same thing happens.”

The relative lateness of the spring season has caused some added scheduling conflicts to what is annually a crowded season.

Yarmouth High Athletic Director Susan Robbins said her school had to decline hosting the Class C track and field championships on Saturday because it would have been the day before Yarmouth’s graduation ceremonies.

“Our graduation is always the second Sunday of June,” Robbins said. “Usually the state meet is the week before. There was no way with graduation being outside we could host the state track meet the day before.”

Robbins said another side effect is that nonspring sport coaches’ direct contact period with athletes begins this year on June 16, before regional and state finals are played in baseball, softball and lacrosse seasons.

“It’s unfair to try to get the kids thinking about the start of next season before their current season is finished,” Robbins said.

Robbins, Falmouth Athletic Director Cooper Higgins and Burnham noted the spring season is always replete with conflicts, particularly for seniors going through graduations, proms, project graduation, and various celebratory assemblies. Add in SAT and Advanced Placement testing that could affect multiple grade levels and “Frankly I do not know how we get all these activities in,” Higgins wrote in an e-mail. “I assume it is only worse the further north you go.”

Robbins added that having games after graduation affects family plans and hinders communication.

“This time of the year for a two-week period it’s always crazy,” Burnham said. “Does it seem any crazier than years past? No, it just seems crazy. You could pick any day and at some point around the state there will be a conflict.”

Fryeburg Academy held its graduation on Memorial Day weekend, so many of the boarding students already had booked flights home by June, including half of the 10-member boys’ tennis team. Although the Raiders won only two matches all season, they squeezed into the eighth and final spot in the Western Class B tournament.

Instead of forfeiting last week’s quarterfinal against top-seeded Cape Elizabeth, which would have meant a two-year ban from MPA tournament play, Fryeburg turned to its baseball infield, drafting first baseman Henry Santara and second baseman Trevor Henschel to make the trip to Cape Elizabeth and play doubles.

“Had they ever played (tennis) formally? No,” said Fryeburg Athletic Director Sue Thurston. “It was not the best-case scenario, but it was the one the MPA recommended.”

Henschel joined Harry Junru at first doubles and managed to win a game in their match. Santara joined Chris Hennessy at second doubles and lost 6-0, 6-0.

“They actually scored some points,” Thurston said.

– Staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this report.


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