FALMOUTH — There’s no guarantee they will meet again, so when Kennebunk junior George Cutone and Falmouth senior Xander Barber met across a tennis net Wednesday afternoon, a significant crowd gathered to watch.

Barber, a tall newcomer to the Maine tennis scene, is nationally-ranked and bound for Division I Dartmouth College. He follows a booming serve with blistering ground strokes and crisp volleys.

Cutone, who at 5-foot-8 gave away about 10 inches in height and more in wingspan, is the two-time defending champion of the state singles tournament, which kicks into high gear this weekend.

Stylistically, Cutone plays counter puncher to Barber’s knockout power. On Wednesday afternoon, Barber came out on top, winning 6-2, 6-4 inside Foreside Fitness to hand Cutone the first loss of his high school career.

As a team, Falmouth won the battle of unbeatens, 4-1. The lone victory for two-time defending Class A state champion Kennebunk came at first doubles, where junior Jaxson Redmond and senior Matt Durcan prevailed 7-5, 6-2 over Falmouth juniors Daniel Kim and Raymond Li.

Barber vs. Cutone was clearly the marquee match, but the undercard of Falmouth sophomore Sam Yoon and Kennebunk freshman Alberto Cutone at No. 2 singles offered compelling tennis as well.


Yoon hits forehands from both sides and took an early lead on George Cutone in a singles semifinal last spring. Alberto Cutone is a left-hander with seasoned strokes who challenged Yoon in both sets before ultimately falling 6-3, 6-3 for his first high school loss.

“Match experience is what he needs, so this was super for him,” said Kennebunk Coach Paul Gaylord. “He played the last three games of the second set the way he should play the whole match – battling, keeping the ball in play, going corner to corner, waiting for a ball to sit up that he could attack or come in and volley rather than trying to go for the winner too quickly.”

Alberto, seeded sixth in the state singles tournament, will be the only member of his family taking part in the event. George and sister Olivia, a talented sophomore, are heading to Georgia on Thursday for a national-level tournament this weekend in hopes of gaining more exposure to college coaches.

Regional qualifying for state singles took place earlier this month. Action resumes Friday at the Wallach Tennis Complex on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston, with fields of 52 boys and 52 girls. By Saturday, each bracket will be whittled to 16. Monday will feature morning semifinals and afternoon finals.

The top four seeds for boys are Barber and Yoon of Falmouth and sophomores Tianyi Ma of Thornton Academy and Khang Duy Vinh Nguyen of Foxcroft Academy. The top four girls are Edward Little senior Mya Vincent, Brunswick junior Coco Meserve, Scarborough senior Amber Woods and Sanford junior Olivia Guinard.

“Hopefully it’ll be me and Sam in the finals,” Barber said. “That’s the goal.”


Barber played high school tennis in his native North Carolina before moving to Maine. Since arriving, he and George Cutone have practiced together often at The Woodlands, a country club in Falmouth where Barber’s father is the head pro. The two boys met once in a USTA tournament in Rhode Island more than a year ago, and Cutone said he may have managed one game off Barber.

“This was a little better,” he said of Wednesday’s match, in which he took a 4-2 lead in the second set and had four chances at a 5-3 lead before Barber ultimately broke serve. “That’s the one thing that’s really annoying me now. Other than that, I think I played a good match. I feel like when I did get chances, I was able to put them away. He was just too good (Wednesday).”

That the match was moved inside on a day without rain was somewhat surprising. Falmouth Coach Bob McCully said his athletic director offered the option of escaping cold and windy conditions outdoors and McCully accepted, saying he thought it would allow for better tennis.

“I have never had a match moved indoors when it was 55 degrees and sunny,” said Gaylord, the Kennebunk coach. “Moving inside definitely played to the strength of their big servers.”

Falmouth also scored at No. 3 singles, where junior Charlie Wolak remained unbeaten with a 6-1, 6-1 victory, and second doubles, where junior Karl Chamberlain and freshman Eli Sidhu won 6-3, 6-4.

If the teams meet again, it likely would be outdoors in the Class A South tournament, although Thornton Academy is capable of spoiling a rematch.

“Hopefully we’ll get to play them again,” George Cutone said. “The team environment is good. It was cool to see how many people showed up (Wednesday).”

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