LEWISTON — As skies grew darker, umbrellas popped open and drops increasingly splattered around him, John Habeeb looked up with a broad smile.

“It’s not raining in my world,” said Habeeb, longtime girls’ tennis coach at Caribou High. “The sun is out.”

Wednesday morning may have brought rain to the campus of Bates College, but the outlook for Aroostook County teams was positively dazzling.

First, Habeeb’s Vikings won the program’s first state championship in 29 years by edging Yarmouth, 3-2, on the strength of a doubles sweep and a victory at No. 3 singles. Then, after inclement weather forced action from the Wallach Tennis Center indoors to the corrugated, rubberized courts of nearby Merrill Gymnasium, Fort Kent clawed back from the precipice with a 3-2 decision in Class C over Waynflete.

In the final match of the day, Falmouth won the Class A title in a marathon duel against Brunswick, 3-2.

Back in the fall, Fort Kent and Waynflete met in the Class C soccer state final, and Wednesday’s all-senior lineup from Fort Kent featured six of the players who endured an agonizing defeat decided on a second round of penalty kicks after 110 minutes of a scoreless tie.


The lone exception was at No. 1 singles, where Anah Albert faced Waynflete’s Lucy Hart, who is headed to play college soccer at Vassar. Albert was Fort Kent’s soccer team manager. On Wednesday, she played the match of her life, pulling out a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the third straight nail-biter after Waynflete opened a quick 2-0 advantage.

“I really didn’t know if we were going to be able to pull it off,” Albert said. “All four years of high school, it was our goal to win Northern Maine. We did that (Monday), and we just won states. So this is better than we could have ever imagined.”

The only other appearance for Fort Kent in a tennis state final came in 1991. Michelle Lovley, the second-year head coach, was in high school at the time. Fort Kent lost to a Cape Elizabeth program that was early in what would become a nine-year title reign.

Playing indoors Wednesday, Waynflete jumped ahead 2-0 with a No. 3 singles victory from Rosie DellaMattera-Christin (6-2, 6-0) and a No. 2 doubles victory from Sara Levenson and Elefe Angle (6-3, 6-3).

Mia Voisine, the goalkeeper in soccer, and Madeline Philbrook kept Fort Kent alive with a 6-1, 7-6 (1) victory at first doubles, and Julia Cyr knotted the overall match by winning 7-6 (6), 6-4 at No. 2 singles.

“Even though we were down, that didn’t really alarm me,” said Lovley, who is also an assistant soccer coach. “I knew they weren’t going to give up without a fight. I actually felt we were going to be OK.”


In the Class B finals, Yarmouth overpowered Caribou at the top two singles positions, with singles state champion Sofia Mavor (6-0, 6-0) and sophomore Adea Cobaj (6-2, 6-0) rolling to victory.

Caribou won the rest, however, with Ella Bennett defeating fellow sophomore Sabina Petrucci 6-1, 6-2 at third singles and the doubles teams of Emmie McIntyre and Joslyn Griffeth (6-1, 6-2) and Madison Thibault and Madelynn Morrow (6-3, 6-4) finishing off the match just prior to the first bout of rain.

Morrow, a senior, competed in sprints, triple jump and pole vault last spring but opted for tennis this year because Caribou’s track was under reconstruction.

“A lot of us may not have the technique that we might need, but we all have the hustle and the drive,” Morrow said. “Knowing we are the underdogs probably helped us out (Wednesday). We’ve been working really hard.”

Habeeb said depth and teamwork proved decisive in Caribou finally breaking through in the state finals.

“I’ve always said singles players help you win matches and doubles teams will help you win championships,” he said. “If you look at what happened (Wednesday), it came down to second doubles.”


The Class A finals, a rematch between Falmouth and defending champion Brunswick, didn’t get underway until 6 p.m. because of the change from eight outdoor courts to four indoor courts. More than four hours later, it remained in doubt.

But shortly after 10 p.m., a still-under-the-weather Sofia Kirtchev pulled out a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 against a gutty Coco Meserve to give Falmouth a 3-2 victory, reversing the outcome from last spring.

Both players needed a five-minute medical timeout, Kirtchev for a trip to the restroom and Meserve, who said she is battling Lyme disease and was fighting through back pain. Their No. 1 singles match finished a few minutes before No. 2 singles, where Brunswick’s Ellie Meserve edged Falmouth’s Sophia Turker, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5), by converting her eighth match point.

That battle lasted more than three hours.

Falmouth (16-0) jumped to a 2-0 lead by sweeping doubles. This was expected, given that the Navigators’ top two pairs had met last month in the finals of the state doubles tournament.

On Wednesday, seniors Mary McPheeters and Jenna Nunley held off Brunswick juniors Izzy Leitzell and Olivia Patient, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 2. At No. 1, Gracyn Mick and Gwen Long did likewise against Brunswick’s Hazel Goodwin and Sadie Levy, 6-2, 7-5.


Long was removed from the lineup in Monday’s regional final when Mick moved up to play singles because Falmouth’s top player, Kirtchev, remained out because of illness.

“I understood why I had to sit, because it was better for the team,” Long said. “But I’m glad I could be back (Wednesday) to finish out the season with my doubles partner.”

Needing one more point to complete their title run, the Navigators found their path filled with obstacles.

Sophomore Molly Tefft kept the Dragons alive with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Falmouth’s Charlotte Williamson at No. 3 singles. The other two matches took much longer, until Kirtchev, a sophomore, finally prevailed.

“I didn’t really have much expectation because I was sick the last week,” Kirtchev said. “Honestly, I don’t know how I did that. It feels surreal. I’m very proud.”

Kirtchev had empathy and kind words for Coco Meserve, last spring’s singles state champion, for dealing with her own health issues and still trading quality groundstrokes.

“She’s just so amazing,” Kirtchev said. “I look up to her.”

Brunswick finishes 15-1.

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