FREEPORT — Last year was monumental for the Freeport High School boys’ tennis team. 

The Falcons captured their first Class B South regional title with a 4-1 victory over Western Maine Conference rival Cape Elizabeth, sending the Falcons to the State Class B title match. 

FREEPORT HIGH SCHOOL junior boys tennis player Clay Canterbury, here returning a shot last year in a home match, leads the Falcons into action on April 22. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

Playing at Lewiston High School, Freeport led Caribou, 1-0. However, the Falcons saw three matches go the other way in quick succession, falling 3-2 to come up just a bit short of a state championship.

Now as the 2019 season is about to unfold, Freeport and head coach Jay Harper have a chance for redemption this season, and hopes are certainly high as the entire squad returns for another run. 

“Last year was a fantastic run and we really loved the challenge of getting through three talented WMC teams to get to states,” said Harper after his Falcons downed York in the quarterfinals and rival Yarmouth in the semis. “I knew we had a chance to be a great team and it was nice to live up to our potential. Obviously, we were disappointed that we didn’t win it all, but we are hoping to correct that this year.”

Senior Wes Goodwin and junior Clay Canterbury give the Falcons a solid 1-2 punch at the top in singles. Goodwin was 19-3 in 2018 and finished as an WMC First Team All-Conference selection, while Canterbury was 16-2 and advanced to the Maine Principals’ Association round of 16 singles tournament. He was also a conference First-Team selection. 

“Goodwin and Canterbury flipped the number one and two positions a few times last year and may again this year,” Harper said. “They are both number one quality talent, and I am excited to see them compete this season and in the singles tournament.”

Also back in the fold is senior Liam Gould, who may fit into the No. 3 singles spot, with a challenge coming from freshman newcomer Gage King. 

“Gould and King will fight for the three spot. But the good news is the loser will make our doubles teams even stronger,” the Freeport coach said. 

Doubles strength

THE FREEPORT HIGH SCHOOL boys tennis team, here posing for a photo after winning the Class B South regional title at Bates College in Lewiston last June, opens its 2019 Western Maine Conference regular season against Greely on April 22. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

As strong as the singles competitors look to be for Freeport, the doubles squads seem powerful as well. 

Senior Sully Smith (WMC First Team) has several solid teammates that he may team up with at No. 1 doubles, including Gould, King, senior Aaron Ruseicki, sophomores TJ Whelan and Liam Hornschild-Bear, along with freshman Andrew Morrissey.

“Our doubles teams had a ton of success last year, and we will need them to step up even more this year,” said Harper, who discussed the pressures his team will face this season. “There is some pressure because we brought everyone back from last year. But knowing the talent Yarmouth has will keep us focused and humble.’

The opener was originally slated for Thursday against Greely. However, that match will now open the season on April 22, with the Falcons hosting the Rangers before heading to Class C kingpin Waynflete two days later for a key matchup. 

“We hope to challenge Class C rival Waynflete, a team that we have not beat in over a decade,” Harper added. “We feel we have the talent to go back to states and have a better ending. However, we know Yarmouth is going to be loaded with talent as well. So we are very aware of what a challenge it will be to get past them. We also know you can not ever count Cape out of the equation.”

The excitement level for boys tennis in Freeport has certainly ramped up. 

“It is so exciting. We have been talking tennis all year long and we are excited that the season is finally here. These kids all played tennis in the winter getting ready for the season,” said Harper. “I have four seniors this year who I have had the pleasure of coaching for four years and watch them grow as players and young men. I am also excited that we have six quality freshmen who came out for the team (they all played in the winter), so we have depth that should keep us competing for the next four years.”

Other key matchups for the Falcons this year include a home date with York (April 26), a visit to Yarmouth (May 6), home against Waynflete (May 8) and at Cape Elizabeth (May 13).

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