JACKSON GORDON (RIGHT) shakes hands with teammate Sawyer Nicholson after their No. 1 doubles match at the Class A North Regional Final at Maine Pines on Tuesday. The pair fell (6-3, 6-1) to Sam Frechette and Ben St. Laurent of Lewiston, which advanced to the Class A State Championship with a 3-2 win.

JACKSON GORDON (RIGHT) shakes hands with teammate Sawyer Nicholson after their No. 1 doubles match at the Class A North Regional Final at Maine Pines on Tuesday. The pair fell (6-3, 6-1) to Sam Frechette and Ben St. Laurent of Lewiston, which advanced to the Class A State Championship with a 3-2 win.

BRUNSWICK

Fittingly, Tuesday’s Class A North regional boys high school tennis final between familiar foes Brunswick and Lewiston came down to the very end.

LUKE ESTABROOK eyes a forehand during his No. 3 singles match with Lewiston’s Caden Smith. Smith won, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

LUKE ESTABROOK eyes a forehand during his No. 3 singles match with Lewiston’s Caden Smith. Smith won, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Dragons No. 3 singles player Luke Estabrook was on serve (4-4) in the third set with Caden Smith when the pressure started to build. The sizable crowd on the next court got noisy after Smith called a close shot out and the spotlight was now on Estabrook to hold serve.

“There’s a little pressure,” Estabrook said. “I definitely noticed it more once I looked up. There’s everyone. I settled in, but he was returning everything.”

Smith’s defensive strategy came up huge in that game, as he went on to break and serve for the match. Estabrook battled back from love-40 down, but a big first serve from Smith closed it out and sent Lewiston to the State Class A championship with a 3-2 win.

“Both guys just went out there and played great tennis,” Brunswick coach Sewall Janeway said. “They were being encouraged by their teammates and unfortunately it didn’t go for us, but it was great tennis.”

It was Estabrook trying to serve things out in the first set, where an early break led to a 5-4 lead, but Smith took advantage of some second serves and broke to even things up. A pair of holds led to a tiebreaker, where Smith had a one-point edge after a drop shot from Estabrook clipped the top of the net and bounced back to him. The lefty then got it back to 5-5 and hit a huge serve to set up set point. He closed it out and pulled Brunswick (13-1) closer to the title.

“I think that was my serve, honestly,” Estabrook said. “I think I was serving really well in the first set. I just held on to serve.”

In the second set, though, Smith jumped on Estabrook’s delivery and frustrated him with return after return en route to a 6-3 win.

“It’s very challenging,” Estabrook said. “Because I’m trying to like wail on it, but he’s getting every single ball back. He’s just a really good player.”

“Caden is an incredible athlete,” Janeway said. “I didn’t realize he was a 10th grader. Really gifted, he was able to chase down everything. He moves well, he’s steady, he’s keeps his composure and even though Luke was hitting some of the best balls of his life, couldn’t getting him by him.”

Estabrook was two points away from a break at 3-2, but Smith fought back and tied the score before two holds made it 4-4. The next two games gave Lewiston (13-2) its second straight win in this matchup.

Down a set in the No. 2 doubles match, it was Wyatt Slocum and Manuel Asens that came storming back and set up the drama on the No. 3 court. The Dragons pair were broken and down 3-0 early in the first, only to come back and make it 5-4, forcing Sam Frechette and Ben St. Laurent to serve it out. The Blue Devils held on but had a lot to deal with in the second set.

Brunswick switched roles and jumped out to an early 3- 0 lead on the way to forcing a deciding third.

“I saw them, after the first set, say they wanted to make some changes,” Janeway said of the pair. “They knew how to beat these guys and not exactly sure what it is that they did, but they did it. Really good.”

“We were just not hitting smart shots,” Slocum said. “We were trying to win every point. Second set, we realized we needed to start letting them make the mistakes. We started hitting more consistent shots, deeper, more top spin. They would mess up and hit it to us at net and we’d finish the points. That carried us through the second set.”

Then in the third, Slocum and Asens “were clicking.” They held early and jumped from 3-2 to 6-2 and won the match.

Next door on the No. 1 doubles court, Jackson Gordon and Sawyer Nicholson faced unfamiliar territory by falling to Lewiston’s Asier Gareinuno and Ben Ferrence. The first set was a battle, with two early breaks and back-and-forth play, but a late Lewiston break closed it out (6-3) and sparked momentum for the second, where the Blue Devils cruised to a 6-1 win.

No. 1 player Cole Ouellette fended off Brunswick’s Dasol Kim in the first completed match of the day, 6-3- 6-1. Kim erased a 3-0 lead in the first set when he broke and held to make it 4-3, but Ouellette returned the favor and closed out the set. The senior then took a 5-0 lead in the second and rolled to the win.

On the No. 2 court, Brunswick’s Lincoln Sullivan used an early break of Joe Bisson to take control of the first set and win, 6-3. Bisson took him the distance in the second, but three straight holds ended the match and got Brunswick on the board.

Both sides have some seniors on the way out, but this won’t be the last time they meet for the Class A North plaque.

“Tom LeBlond, the Lewiston coach, is putting together a really formidable team,” Janeway said. “He’s definitely got a lot of good players and they’re good sportsmen, great athletes and we enjoy playing with them.”

“It’s always been a matchup,” Slocum said. “This year, it’s been 2-2, we beat them twice, they beat us twice. Next year, it’ll be a matchup. It’s the just the biggest rivalry.”


Comments are not available on this story.