LEWISTON — Last year still counts for something in the tennis world.
Emilie Cloutier, who made a run to the quarterfinals at last year’s MPA singles tourney, was rewarded for that run this time around. After breezing through regional qualifying, Cloutier learned this week that she will be the No. 4 seed at this year’s tournament, which begins at Bates College’s Wallach Tennis Complex on Friday.
“I’m sure last year has a lot to do with it,” Lewiston coach Anita Murphy said. “I kind of thought she’d end up fourth or fifth, but there are a lot of good girls in this tournament. She’s worked hard to get where she is.”
The rest of the Lewiston girls’ contingent also qualified. Michelle Nadeau will face Rosie LaCivita of Belfast in the first round, and a win there would match her up against Jordan Myerowitz of John Bapst. Two wins would qualify Nadeau for the Round of 16.
Abby Blaisdell of Lewiston drew Mary Emerson of St. Dom’s in the opening round. Both players grew up playing in the Lewiston Recreation program together. The winner of that match will move on to face Gorham’s Natalie Egbert, the No. 6 seed, in the second round.
Other area girls to qualify for the tournament include No. 11 seed Kelsey Ouellette of Winthrop, who needs only to win one match to reach the Round of 16, Hannah Langlois of Oak Hill, Frankie Lally of Edward Little and Sara Lacroix of Oak Hill.
Toni Weber is the area’s top boys’ seed at No. 7. Scott Gagne of Lewiston is next at at No. 11. Their only matches Friday will be later in the afternoon, and will be determined by earlier matches.
Lewiston’s Eric Morin and Eric Hall will have to play first-rounders. Morin will see John Szewczyk of Bangor in his first match, and will follow that up with one against Nathan Beaulieu of Madawaska, should he advance.
Hall begins his day with a match against Nick Wilkins of Mt. Blue, and would face the No. 5 seed, Bob Tom Flynn of John Bapst.
“All of them have a legit shot at being in the Round of 16,” Lewiston boys’ coach Ron Chicoine said of his players. “I thought maybe Scott could have been seeded higher, but he has a good draw, and Eric Morin might have the best draw of all of them.”
Other area players in the draw include Matt St. John of Mt. Blue, Brian Bradsteet of Oak Hill and Noah Bosworth of Monmouth.
Who turned out the lights?
In the teams’ final match of the regular season, Lewiston and Edward Little battled under the lights in Lewiston on Monday. As is tradition, the doubles teams and second and third singles players played first, with the top players from each squad taking the first open court.
Neither Emilie Cloutier nor Frankie Lally like losing all that much, and it showed. More than two hours after they took the court, with still at least a game to play in the second set and Cloutier leading 6-1, 5-2, the lights went out at the courts. Set on an automatic timer based on the time of year, they weren’t coming back on, either.
“It was so tough to have to end that right there,” Murphy said. “What a match. The score doesn’t come close to doing it justice.”
Long rallies begot long points begot long games as the players traded shots well into the night — until everything went dark.
Waynflete has the rare distinction of sending its top three players into this weekend’s MPA singles tourney as the top three seeds of the tournament. All three of them are capable of winning the crown outright, and a pair of them have area connections.
Brandon Thompson’s family lives in the Lewiston area. He has been Waynflete’s top player since his freshman season, and has steadily climbed to the top of the state singles podium.
Devin Van Dyke, the school’s No. 2, was a strong competitor last season. He grew up in the Lewiston Recreation system and is from the city.
Both players, who also won the Class C state title last season, will be looking for more hardware as the second season begins.