Kennebunk’s No. 1 doubles team – seniors Owen Chestnut, left, and Cooper Durcan – are unbeaten and have dropped only nine games in nine matches. Glenn Jordan photo

KENNEBUNK — Will Smith felt certain his Kennebunk High boys’ tennis team was on the verge of something special last spring.

Kennebunk junior Will Smith has won all nine of his matches at No. 2 singles. Glenn Jordan photo

The Rams had five returning seniors and a legitimate shot to overtake Class A rivals Falmouth and Thornton Academy and win a state title. The pandemic, and ensuing graduation of those five seniors, wiped away that possibility.

“For the longest time, I was dwelling on what we could have had last year,” said Smith, now a junior. “I decided to leave it in the past once this season started. Now I’m just grateful we even have a season.”

Smith spoke Thursday afternoon following his straight-sets victory at No. 2 singles as the Rams beat South Portland to improve their record to 9-0. That Kennebunk, despite an entirely new singles lineup, has yet to lose a match (and has already beaten the teams remaining on its schedule), is something of a surprise.

“I didn’t see it coming,” said Coach Paul Gaylord.

In similar fashion, the Yarmouth High boys have turned their question marks into victories. The Clippers bid adieu to six seniors who had been hoping to defend their 2019 Class B state crown, rolled out a lineup bereft of varsity singles experience, and were 7-0 heading into Friday afternoon’s match with North Yarmouth Academy.

“We didn’t know what we had going into the season, but we knew we had a lot of depth,” said Yarmouth Coach Bill Shardlow. “This team is the closest from 1 to 8 in ability that I’ve ever coached.”

Kennebunk freshman George Cutone is seeded second in the state singles tournament. Glenn Jordan photo

In the Kennebunk singles lineup, Smith is sandwiched between freshmen George Cutone and Jaxson Redmond. Cutone has dropped only five games all season and is seeded second in the state singles tournament. Qualifying was held last weekend.

Smith, a left-hander, isn’t quite as dominant, but he hasn’t lost a set in nine team matches. Redmond is improving at No. 3 singles and riding a three-match winning streak.

“The big thing for us has been the emergence of Will Smith at No. 2 singles,” Gaylord said. “We knew George was going to be tough coming in.”

Smith played first doubles as a freshman and made the successful transition to singles. He also qualified for the state singles tournament.

In doubles, seniors Owen Chestnut and Cooper Durcan have yet to lose a set. Opponents have managed only nine games in nine matches. Sophomores Matt Durcan and Sean Horgan play No. 2 doubles.

Prior to the season, Yarmouth and Kennebunk held a scrimmage. Kennebunk won the top two singles matches and Yarmouth took the rest. The current Clippers singles lineup is junior Asher Lockwood followed by sophomores Will Best and Quinn Federle.

“The difference between my one, two and three players is minimal at best, no pun intended,” Shardlow said. “Their ladder matches are always ending in tiebreakers.”

Doubles is more of the same, Shardlow said, with a “razor-thin” margin between the first pairing of seniors GW Ruth and Miles Hagedorn and the second pairing of junior Sutter Augur and sophomore Ethan Lombard. All but Lombard played doubles in the 2019 state title match against Belfast.

The quality of Yarmouth’s depth became evident when freshman Andi Cobaj joined Lockwood and Best in qualifying for the state singles tournament. Federle extended the top player from Cheverus, Evangelo Kapothanasis, before falling 6-4, 7-6 (5).

“We don’t have a superstar,” Shardlow said. “What we have is eight good tennis players who will grind it out.”

A strong test arrives Monday when Yarmouth plays host to Waynflete, the 12-time defending Class C state champion. The teams are scheduled to meet again in Portland to end their regular seasons.

PAIRINGS have been set for the 52 girls and 52 boys who qualified for the state singles tournaments. Action gets underway Friday morning at the Lewiston High courts and continues through Saturday. Semifinals and finals are scheduled for May 24.

The top four seeds for girls are Yarmouth freshman Sophia Mavor, Cape Elizabeth senior Blair Hollyday, Waynflete senior Morgan Warner and Lincoln Academy senior Caitlin Cass. For boys, the top four are Greely junior Leif Boddie, Cutone of Kennebunk, Waynflete senior Ben Adey and Foxcroft Academy senior Caleb Fockens, whose family moved to northern Maine from Greenwich, Connecticut, in the summer of 2019.

While competing in Connecticut’s largest school division, Fockens reached the state singles Round of 16 as a freshman and quarterfinals as a sophomore.

AT LEAST TWO CONFERENCES are holding doubles tournaments Saturday. The Fore River Complex in Portland will play host to 15 boys’ teams from Western Maine Conference schools. Across town at the Cheverus courts off Washington Avenue, 29 teams from 11 SMAA schools will compete. Neither conference generated enough interest in a girls’ doubles tournament.


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