By Matt DiFilippo
The state championship Round of 48 boys and girls singles tennis tournament begins Saturday at Lewiston High School. Bates College, the normal site for the Round of 48, is not available Saturday, but Monday’s Round of 16 and quarterfinals and Wednesday’s semifinals and finals will be at Bates.
Round of 48 chairman Cooper Higgins said matches will start around 9 a.m., Saturday. Higgins added that Lewiston High School has eight tennis courts.
“It’s a similar setup to Bates,” Higgins said. “Lewiston does have lights, so we’re hoping to use that to its maximum if necessary.”
Waterville’s Colleen O’Donnell and Tiffany Suchanek earned the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, on the girls side. Brunswick’s Maisie Silverman and Falmouth’s Olivia Leavitt are the top two seeds. Silverman was the state runner-up as a freshman and won the title last year as a sophomore.
In the boys bracket, Messalonskee’s Jai Aslam is the No. 9 seed. Defending champion Jordan Friedland of Lincoln is the top seed, followed by Falmouth’s Brendan McCarthy and Patrick Ordway of Waynflete. Ordway won the individual title in 2011.
The team state championships, which are scheduled for June 8, will be held at the University of Maine. Higgins said that’s because both Colby College and Bates were unavailable.
Asked whether any southern schools have complained about driving to Orono for the states, Higgins laughed and said, “Not yet — mainly because they don’t know who they are yet.”
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The Kents Hill boys recently wrapped up their third unbeaten season in the last five years. The Huskies went 10-0 to win the Maine Association of Independent Schools Athletic Directors conference title. The MAISAD simply crowns a regular season champion and does not have team playoffs.
Sophomore Shina Ota went 7-3 at No. 1 singles for Kents Hill. Octavi Olui was 9-1 at No. 2 and Ernesto Zaragoza finished 7-1 at No. 3. Ota was the runner-up at last week’s MAISAD singles tournament.
At No. 1 doubles, Robert Patenaude and Sam Hall played 12 matches together and won them all. They also captured the MAISAD doubles championship on Saturday. Patenaude and Hall lost only one set together in their 12 matches and that was in the finals of the doubles tournament.
Another example of Kents Hill’s strength is the Huskies posted a 4-1 victory over St. Dominic, the No. 1 seed in Western C.
“We have a very good team,” Kents Hill coach Pat McInerney said.
“The top three kids probably could play No. 1 for most schools. They’ve been coached all over the world. Robert played No. 3 for us last year, and he’s gotten better, but he got bumped to doubles because the other kids are so talented.”
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The Carrabec girls have had one of the biggest team turnarounds in the state this year. After going 1-11 last spring under first-year coach Nora Messier, the Cobras are 7-4 this season and are headed to the Western C playoffs.
“Last year, I had a very small team. I had eight girls,” Messier said. “Not everyone could make it all the time and I found that I had to forfeit a lot of positions. I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to do that again.’ ”
Messier doesn’t teach at Carrabec, so she recruited by going to basketball games and talking to kids who might be looking for a spring sport. The result is that four of Carrabec’s top 10 players this year are in their first year playing tennis.
“They were inexperienced, but they knew automatically they had to move to the ball,” Messier said.
Carrabec’s four spring teams won a combined four games last season, so even some of the experienced players needed a hand in believing they could win.
“They struggled with having confidence,” Messier said. “I was like, ‘Well, you can’t go in expecting to lose. You’re never going to win that way.’ These freshman girls did really well in youth basketball, so I think winning and knowing how to win has helped our team.”
Sarah Larlee, Jerzee Rugh and Hannah Atwood currently hold the three singles spots. The doubles teams are Maeve Weggler and Kate Stevens at No. 1 and Debbie Ellis and Kathleen Swihart at No. 2.
“They’re a great bunch of girls, so it’s been an awesome season,” Messier said.
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
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