Grace Campanella lost just one game during the MPA singles tournament en route to her second consecutive state championship.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Last year, there were complications and conflicting emotions. That can happen when you’re up against your big sister in the finals of the MPA singles state tournament.

This year, Grace Campanella had no such distractions. The junior from Kennebunk High buzzsawed her way through the best players in the state – and very nearly matched the singular feat of Brian Patterson, who as a Falmouth High senior in 1995 swept through the state tournament without dropping a game.

Campanella went 60-1 in her five matches, culminating in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Bangor junior Elene Imnaishvili, an exchange student from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

“A different feel than last year, that’s for sure,” said Jacqui Holmes, coach of the Kennebunk/Wells co-op team. “There was a lot of pressure not to lose a game, but she bounced right back.”

For the second year in a row, Campanella is our choice as the Varsity Maine Player of the Year in girls’ tennis.

A left-hander with a solid serve and crisp ground strokes, Campanella describes herself as a pretty boring person. She has two dogs, both miniature poodles. Penny is tan and Dexter is mostly black. They share her bed each night.

Her career goal is to be a veterinarian. She has another year of high school, so the college recruiting process is gearing up.

As of now, she’s only looking at schools with NCAA Division I tennis programs.

“My plan was to stay in New England, but then the Ball State (Indiana) coach contacted me and it’s really catching my eye,” she said. “So that restriction is going out the window.”

She said she much prefers singles to doubles, because she always feels more pressure not to let down her partner.

“She’s funny,” Holmes said. “She does get frustrated with herself if she messes something up, but then she doesn’t make that same mistake again.”

As a sophomore, Campanella was seeded second in the singles tournament and claimed the title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over her sister,  Rosemary, who went on to play at Merrimack College.

As a freshman, Grace was seeded fifth and lost only two games in three matches before running into Lana Mavor, the eventual champion from Yarmouth who will play this fall at North Carolina State. Mavor won 6-1, 6-1.

In team competition this spring, Campanella won every match she played at No. 1 singles to lead Kennebunk/Wells to a 7-0 start. The team earned the sixth seed in Class A South and finished 9-5 after a quarterfinal loss to regional champion Scarborough.

“I went into this year just wanting to have fun,” she said. “That was my main goal. I wasn’t really worried about states or anything. I just wanted to enjoy being on the team.”

Did she succeed?

“Yeah, I had so much fun this year,” Campanella said. “We had a really good group of girls. Everyone got along so well. I made some best friends on the team and every practice was just a lot of fun.”