LEWISTON — Normally, facing Bangor in a tennis match is a springtime rite of passage for the Lewiston Blue Devils, at least in boys’ tennis. Last year, the girls got in on the act, too.
But every year, they’ve had to wait until the playoffs due to the north/south split in the KVAC.
This year, with an unbalanced number of teams in the KVAC South with the departure of Gardiner and Morse to Class B, scheduling allowed for a pair of crossover matchups. There was no question for Lewiston that Bangor had to be one of those matches.
“It’s nice to have the crossover, not only to see what they have, but so that we don’t have a situation like we did last year where undefeated teams from up north lose to No. 7 seeds from the south,” Lewiston boys’ coach Ron Chicoine said. “Now, there will be a better balance.”
“We had no idea last year what they had, and they ended up being one of our closer matches,” Lewiston girls’ coach Anita Murphy said.
There will be no mystery this year, and the Blue Devils continued to display their dominance Wednesday. The Lewiston boys handed the Rams their second consecutive setback after a stellar start with a 5-0 win, and the girls followed suit. Both teams are now 6-0.
“This was a great match, and even though the score is at 5-0, it was one of our better matches in term of the games and matches being close,” Murphy said.
The highlight of the afternoon was a three-set marathon at first doubles in the girls’ match. Jessica Bowen and Becca Lessard outlasted Adriana Capuano and Michaela Whitney 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4.
“That was probably the top doubles team any of my girls have faced in almost two years,” Murphy said.
The rest of the squad won in straight sets, though many of the matches were closer than they appeared on paper. At No. 2 singles, Abby Blaisdell fell into an early hole before rallying for a 6-3, 6-1 win.
“I know they were tough last year, and I didn’t know what to expect coming into it,” Blaisdell said. “The score doesn’t always say what the match was like. I was losing early, and we had some really good rallies.”
Emilie Cloutier and Michelle Nadeau won their singles matches as well, and Paige LeBlond and Brittany Martin took care of business at No. 2 doubles.
On the boys’ side, Scott Gagne of Lewiston and Patrick Stewart of Bangor waged the battle of the afternoon at No. 1 singles, a slugfest that finished 6-4, 6-2 in Gagne’s favor. The Rams lost five key players from their squad a year ago.
“Lewiston and Brunswick are the teams we get to play in the crossover this year,” Bangor coach Cindi Howard said. “I like that. It’s nice to be able to see how we do against these other teams. Patrick had a great match today, but I think overall, the team was still a bit down after losing to Hampden.”
Lewiston’s Eric Hall and Eric Morin took home straight-set wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively, while Alex Chicoine and Johnny McDonough won at No. 1 doubles, and Keagan Cote and Brett Vallee pulled out a win at No. 2 doubles.
Despite the win, Ron Chicoine wasn’t entirely content.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way we played, really,” Chicoine said. “We’re not there yet, and if we play like that against some of the top competition, we’re going to be in trouble.”
After a match Thursday against Cony, Lewiston gets a rematch with its toughest opponent to date on Friday against Brunswick.