George Cutone of Kennebunk won the state singles title as a freshman and also helped the Rams to a 16-0 record and the Class A team state championship. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

More than 400 boys and girls from around the state will take to tennis courts at five regional sites Saturday as qualification begins for the Maine Principals’ Association singles tournaments.

Last spring, for only the second time in history, a pair of freshmen emerged as champions. George Cutone of Kennebunk High is back to defend his title, but Sofia Mavor of Yarmouth decided not to play high school tennis this year.

Entering the season, the overwhelming favorite on the girls’ side was George’s sister, Olivia Cutone, a Kennebunk freshman who won the Betty Blakeman Memorial women’s open title in 2019 as a 12-year-old. Currently ranked No. 1 in New England and 99th in the country for girls 16-and-under, Cutone has entered a Level 2 USTA national tournament in Georgia the weekend of May 20-22, which is when the MPA tournament whittles its 52 regional qualifiers down to the four semifinalists who are scheduled to play for the title on May 23 at Lewiston High.

“It’s a bummer that she has a conflict but she’s committed to being part of the team,” said Kennebunk Coach Jacqui Holmes, who said Cutone regularly cheers on her friends during junior varsity matches as well as the varsity action.

“It’s been so fun to have her around,” Holmes said. “I can’t speak for her, but my sense is that playing and being part of a team is what it’s all about. We’re thrilled to have her around and we’re learning a lot from her.”

A total of 225 girls entered regional qualifying, with the highest number (73) competing in Region 2, hosted by Hampden Academy. From that region, a dozen girls will advance to the statewide Round of 52 on May 20 at Lewiston High.


The number of qualifiers and entrants from the other four regional sites: Caribou, 5 of 22; Mt. Ararat, 9 of 41; Lewiston, 8 of 32; Deering, 18 of 57.

Defending Class A champion Brunswick boasts two of last spring’s top 10 seeds in sophomore Coco Meserve (7th) and senior Anna Barnes (9th).

“I know my players were excited to play Olivia, but we all understand and respect her choices,” said Brunswick Coach Mary Kunhardt. “It sounds like it’s going to be a fun day of tennis, with sunny warm weather.”

Several international students from Region 2 add even more uncertainty to the girls’ field. The family of Piscataquis Athletic Director Joe Gallant is hosting German exchange student Fabienne Nowak, whose only loss so far this spring was to Lidia Gomez, a native of Spain enrolled at Maine Central Institute. Foxcroft Academy also has a pair of international students atop its ladder.

Amber Woods of Scarborough joins Barnes as the only returning quarterfinalist from last spring. Meserve and Abby Emerson of Gorham reached the Round of 16.

Among boys, three quarterfinalists are back. Joining Cutone (who was the second seed) are Leif Boddie (No. 1) of Greely and Gabriel Naftoly of Berwick Academy (No. 8), both seniors.

The breakdown by region for 243 boys (who are fighting for the same distribution of 52 slots as the girls): Caribou 20, Hampden 67, Brunswick 49, Lewiston 21 and South Portland 86. Seeding meetings for each region were scheduled for Wednesday evening.

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