Scarborough’s girls’ tennis team shocked the world last spring, ending Falmouth’s long championship run in the Class A South Final. The Red Storm, with many top players returning, hoped to go all the way this year, but won’t have the opportunity, as the season has been postponed by COVID-19. Contributed photo.

For three years, Scarborough’s girls’ tennis team kept its eye on the prize.

Last spring, the Red Storm almost snared that prize a year early and this season, they were poised to send their seniors out in style.

With a state title.

But like so many other things in the world of sports at all levels, Scarborough’s hopes and dreams were vanquished by a foe known as coronavirus.

And now the Red Storm will never know if they would have been able to fulfill their dream.

“We were built for this and after last year, we knew this could be the year for us,” said Lincoln MacIsaac, who, along with Steve Eddy, has spent the past 12 years as Scarborough’s coach.

The build-up

Scarborough has posted a winning record every year that MacIsaac and Eddy have coached, but after going 14-1 in 2016, losing to Falmouth in the regional final, the Red Storm had some holes to fill.

Suffice it to say that the incoming freshman class played a large role in doing so.

Scarborough reached the semifinals in both 2017 (losing to Thornton Academy) and again in 2018 (losing to Falmouth), but everything clicked a year ago.

The Red Storm lost their opener, again, to Falmouth, then won 11 straight matches. In the playoffs, after eliminating Kennebunk and Cheverus, Scarborough met up with Falmouth again, which entered the regional final having won 187 consecutive matches and 11 straight state titles.

In the program’s signature moment, the Red Storm overcame losing at first and second singles to prevail, 3-2, setting off sheer jubilation.

“I’ll never forget beating Falmouth,” said Kellie Guerrette, then a junior, who prevailed at third singles that day. “I’ll always be proud of that. We were a family that day. Our one and two singles lost. When I won, I had no idea about doubles, then it was so exciting and nervewracking. It was insane when we won.”

“Coach Eddy and I have done this 12 years and it was the most exciting win we’ve ever had,” MacIsaac said. “It was so sweet because we had always lost to Falmouth every year.

“The girls were ready to go that day. They were fed up and they grinded it out. It all clicked for them that day. They rushed the court and had a huge celebration. It was my favorite moment in coaching.”

Scarborough then lost to Lewiston, 5-0, in a closer-than-the-final-score-indicated state match, but the silver lining was that six of the team’s seven top players were returning.

“It was a successful season even with that loss,” Guerrette said. “We knew we’d be good (in 2020).”

“We felt that Lewiston was better that day, but we talked about having starters returning and that was a bonus in our favor,” said MacIsaac.

The letdown

In addition to Guerrette, a team captain, Scarborough returned state match participants and seniors Mayne Gwyer, Sydney Koukos, Abby Ricker (a captain and last year’s top singles player), Ashley Sabatino and Carrie Timpson, in addition to captains Ashley O’Brien and Madison Scammell (a junior). Freshman Amber Woods, who would have vied for a singles spot, made an already talented team that much deeper.

But due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Storm never got to practice, not to mention play their first countable match, which was scheduled for Monday at Bonny Eagle.

And understandably, the loss of its season left Scarborough’s players and coaches distraught.

“I was really upset because I was looking forward to the season,” Guerrette said. “We wanted to get back on the court. I was optimistic, but I knew there were other good teams and we needed to get stronger.”

“I contacted my captains first and then I let the whole team know (the season was cancelled) the next day,” MacIsaac said. “It was a tough conversation. The kids were great, but it was hard. It’s really hard for the seniors. I know how much they think about tennis and what this time of year means to them.

“We felt we had an opportunity to go further and get a state championship. That was the focus for the girls. We felt we’d be right up there with Falmouth and Gorham. The girls had been working hard in the offseason.”

Present and future

Scarborough doesn’t have a season to play. There will be no runs at a state singles title or a league doubles championship and the state team tournament will forever remain a case of what-if and who-knows.

But the Red Storm are sticking together, as they have for years.

“We’ve stayed connected and we’re trying to stay a unit and stay positive,” said Guerrette.

“We coach because we love the sport, but what we really love is the interaction,” MacIsaac said. “I love the kids’ unity and competitiveness. We’ve been doing Google Classroom to stay together, since that’s as close as we can get face-to-face. We really miss the camaraderie.”

While there will be no 2020 season for Scarborough’s girls’ tennis team, the Red Storm have already accomplished a ton and the players who made up a special squad have much to look forward to.

“Playing for Scarborough was a memorable time,” said Guerrette, who plans to study health science at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts next year. “Since my freshman year, we’ve gotten more and more people on the team and that’s made it fun for us. I’ve played soccer (two years) and done swimming (four years) too, but tennis was definitely my favorite.”

“We’ve had players reach out and thank us for a great four years, saying we’ve impacted their lives,” MacIsaac said. “One mentioned taking up tennis just for something to do and it became her favorite sport.

“The seniors’ legacy will be revitalizing a program that was at a turning point. They wanted to go to the next level and we pushed them. They planted their flag in the ground and beating Falmouth was certainly a highlight for the program. They developed a championship mentality. They set great examples and will be great in the real world. They’re just stellar kids with great personalities.

“It’s just bittersweet because we did so well last year and I think we had one more great year left in us.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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