LEWISTON — When neither player could hold his first service game, it appeared as if defending champion Nick Forester of Falmouth and No. 2 seed Dariy Vykhodtsev of Thornton Academy in Saco might be in for a lengthy battle.

Instead, Forester found his rhythm on serve and continued to break Vykhodtsev on the way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory Monday afternoon in the finals of the Maine Principals’ Association boys’ singles tennis state tournament.

“It definitely went faster than I expected,” Forester said. “But obviously, that’s the goal coming in, to be efficient.”

The match, held outside under mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s at breezy Wallach Tennis Center on the campus of Bates College, lasted only 44 minutes.

Kennebunk junior Grace Campanella needed only two minutes longer to complete her own run through the girls’ draw by dispatching Bangor foreign exchange student Elene Imnaishvili 6-1, 6-0. By holding serve in the fourth game of the first set, Imnaishvili, a former junior standout in her native Georgia, became the only one of Campanella’s five tournament opponents to avoid a double bagel.

“It was just an honor to play with her,” said Imnaishvili, who returned to the sport this spring at 16 after three years without touching a racket because at 13 she had had enough. “She was so good.”

Brian Patterson, a senior at Falmouth High in 1995 who spent his middle years of high school at southern tennis academies, remains the only player to roll through the state singles tournament without dropping a game.

“Well, I lost three in the regular season,” Campanella said. “It didn’t really shake me. It happens a lot.”

In the morning semifinals, Campanella blanked Danish exchange student and fifth seed Regitze Jacobsen of Mt. Desert Island, 6-0, 6-0 and the second-seeded Imnaishvili held off No. 6 Morgan Warner, a Waynflete sophomore who played lacrosse for the Flyers last spring, by a score of 6-4, 6-4.

“Grace has no weakness,” said Jacobsen, 17, who also took a two-year break from the sport because of a shoulder injury. “She places the ball wherever she wants to and as hard as she wants to.”

Last spring, Campanella had to beat her older sister, Rosemary, in the championship match. On Monday, she had to hit winners against an opponent who rarely matched her pace.

“She’s very quick,” Campanella said of Imnaishvili. “(My approach was to) target her backhand and overall, just be really consistent and really aggressive but with good margin.”

In the boys’ semis, the top-seeded Forester beat his good friend, fellow senior and training partner, No. 4 Thorne Kieffer of Waynflete, 6-1, 6-3. In the other morning match, unseeded freshman Archie McDonough of Yarmouth held his own against Vykhodtsev in the first set before succumbing 6-4, 6-0.

“I was surprised but I knew I had a chance,” said McDonough, who moved to Maine from England three years ago and opened the season at No. 2 on Yarmouth’s singles ladder. “But there comes a point where he hits it harder than me.”

Vykhodtsev and Forester met in the singles semifinals as freshmen, and Forester was forced to withdraw after tearing ligaments in his knee after stepping on a ball that had strayed from an adjacent court. Vykhodtsev lost a three-setter in the finals to Nick Mathieu of Mt. Ararat in Topsham.

As sophomores, Forester won a semifinal rematch with Vykhodtsev but fell to Mathieu in another three-set championship match. Last spring, Vykhodtsev didn’t play high school tennis and Forester won the singles title over Falmouth teammate Alex Klemperer.

Earlier this season, in a match played indoors at The Woodlands, Forester defeated Vykhodtsev 6-4, 7-5. So what was different outdoors on Monday afternoon?

“I don’t know,” Vykhodtsev said.

Forester won the toss and elected to receive. Vykhodtsev served four games of the opening set and double-faulted in each of them, a total of seven times.

“He goes for his serves a lot,” Forester said. “Maybe the wind had something to do with it. It was a little breezy. I came in trying to attack his serve to try to put pressure on him throughout.”

Vykhodtsev opened the second set by immediately breaking Forester’s serve but Forester won nine of the next 10 points and only lost one more point on serve the rest of the match.

“He’s a great player,” Forester said. “Even after that first set, I was like, ‘I can’t let him get into a rhythm.’ He hits so hard that if he gets into a rhythm, it’s tough to beat him no matter how well I play.”

 


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