BIDDEFORD — Biddeford gave its best shot Wednesday in a rivalry match against Thornton Academy, but the Trojans proved once again why they are the team to beat in the SMAA this year. Despite strong challenges from the Tigers, Thornton swept the boys tennis version of the Battle of the Bridge, 5-0, at Memorial Park.

The sweep was the seventh of the season for Thornton (10-0), which didn’t drop more than one individual match until Monday, when the Trojans edged Deering 3-2. TA head coach Andy Carlson said that match took a lot out of his team physically and emotionally, and the aftereffects seemed to linger into Wednesday’s match.

Biddeford (6-5) showed it was no pushover in each opening set, making the Thornton players work for points. The Tigers won multiple games in four of the five first sets, and in the other ”“ No. 1 singles ”“ Biddeford won the first game before dropping the next six.

“I think Biddeford came out and played really well,” said Carlson. “Biddeford is solid. Their top end of the lineup is very solid. You got to make sure you play well against guys like that or you’re going to have to play harder than maybe you want to play.”

Despite winning the first point, Biddeford’s No. 1 doubles team of Jace Hevey and Chris Charest was no match for Thornton’s Dylan Gooch and Simon Belliveau, losing the match 6-1, 6-1.

The Tiger pair wasn’t its typical one at the spot, as head coach Mark Ouellette played seniors at all seven spots for senior day.

Even so, TA’s No. 1 doubles tandem has been a tough draw for any opponent.

“This is their second season in a row together. I think they understand how to construct points, they know what to do to perform well,” Carlson said of Gooch and Belliveau, who played at No. 2 doubles last year.

The Trojans had a new face in a new place of their own, as Jackson Dohse played at No. 3 singles in the place of Vojtech Brtinsky, who was ill. It was Dohse’ first-ever varsity match, and he beat Biddeford’s Brady Huot 6-2, 6-0.

“I told Jackson about 15 minutes before match time ”˜get ready,’” said Carlson. “I think you saw early in that first set some nerves. I think he just settled down and said ”˜okay, I deserve to be here.’”

The final result wasn’t indicative to how hard Huot made Dohse work for his debut win, however, but the Biddeford senior wasn’t able to put together a complete match to help the Tigers avoid a sweep.

“Right know his karma isn’t where it should be. So much of it is how good you feel,” Ouellette said of Huot. “But we can work on that next week.”

The Tigers came closest to a set win in No. 2 doubles, as Adam Michel and Garren Dewitt played TA’s Eric Gooch and Jared Waterhouse to a 6-4 first set. But coming close without finishing took a toll on the senior pair, as they fell 6-0 in the second set.

“We’re not in the same tier, but it’s okay,” said Ouellette.

Biddeford scored a couple moral victories against Thornton’s twin towers at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, making Victor Menezes and Carlos Jiminez sweat a little in their respective opening sets. But ultimately Ashton Collins and Ken Reyes fell to a pair of players who advanced in the state singles tournament last weekend.

“The best thing was, I liked the way my No. 1 and No. 2 hit the ball today. They played better against better players,” said Ouellette, who called Wednesday’s match the hardest of the season for his team.

Reyes played Jiminez 6-3 before falling 6-1 in No. 2 singles. Collins worked Menezes ”“ a three-time state round of 48 participant ”“ to 6-2 before going down 6-0.

I didn’t coach last year, so to see where Ashton is now compared to where he was. Ashton has just absolutely grown leaps and bounds since when he first started,” said Ouellette, who took a year off last year after coaching for the previous 12. “He can hit with these kids, where he couldn’t come close before.”

Carlson said his players made some adjustments in their respective second sets, as they dually battled a hangover effect from the Deering match and a tougher test than possibly expected from Biddeford.

Still, the Trojans kept their undefeated record intact, as they’ve been the juggernaut in the SMAA all season.

“We’ve been really fortunate this season. The guys have been playing well and the matchups have been in our favor, and that’s resulted in some good success for us,” said Carlson. “We just hope we can continue to play well going forward, and continue to perform the way we have been.”

Biddeford closes out its regular season Friday at South Portland, while Thornton travels to Marshwood the same day before hosting Scarborough in its regular-season finale next Tuesday.

— Sports Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.



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