They’re rolling along, but they’re far from comfortable.
The Lewiston High School boys’ tennis team has predictably run the table through two-thirds of its 12-match schedule this season, never losing more than one individual match at a time. The Blue Devils have also placed all three of their singles players through to the MPA Singles tourney after qualifying this weekend.
But they’re far from satisfied with the results to this point.
“I don’t think we’re playing that great, to be honest, even if we’re 8-0,” coach Ron Chicoine said. “Hampden’s undefeated, and they beat Bangor about as handily as we beat Bangor, and we’re probably not going to see them until the playoffs. Brunswick pushed us this last time we played them. We’re playing O.K., but we’re not … we have a lot of work to do.”
The Devils’ strongest piece of the puzzle this season has been their doubles play. But that’s also Chicoine’s biggest cause for concern as the playoffs draw near.
“The doubles have not really had a close match yet, but that worries me because I have no idea what’s going to happen when they do have one,” Chicoine said. “I think the doubles, we’re going to have to keep them focused.”
Lewiston has also been without top singles player Eric Hall for a long stretch of the campaign due to health concerns. His first varsity experience back from his ailment was the singles qualifier over the weekend. In his stead, Jon McDonough has filled in at No. 3 singles, with Scott Gagne moving into the No. 1 spot and Eric Morin holding down the fort at No. 2.
“He’s been doing great at No. 3,” Chicoine said of McDonough. “He’s been a solid three, but I think we’ll be even better with Eric (Hall) back at No. 1.”
Another cause for Chicoine’s trepidation has been the weather. With four matches scheduled over the next six school days, and a bleak forecast to match the time frame, things aren’t looking much better.
“That’s one place where we might be at a disadvantage,” Chicoine said. The other top teams, Hampden, Brunswick, they all have indoor facilities to play and practice in, and right now, we don’t have that, so we’re looking at getting in all the practice time we can.”
Saints staying strong
When the season began, St. Dom’s coach Pamela Kay was cautiously optimistic. She knew she had a few good returning players, and some solid incoming talent, but she was worried about how the group dynamic would work with so many newcomers to varsity tennis.
The Saints have answered every one of those questions positively to this point, and the St. Dom’s girls on one of a small handful of squads still perfect on the season, which has now reached its two-thirds mark around the state.
“They’re improving every day,” Kay said. “It’s great to see.”
Perhaps the biggest test the Saints passed to date this season came Friday against Dirigo. After dispatching the Cougars in Dixfield earlier in the season by a 4-1 count, the Saints found themselves in a battle on Friday.
“They’ve been our toughest competition, and I really think that was important,” Kay said. “Being able to handle the best team we’ve come up against was important.”
Jasmine Hussey and Callie Greco earned a valuable doubles point for St. Dom’s at No. 1 doubles, Carolyn Joseph cruised in the top singles spot and Olivia Cluff slugged out a 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 3 doubles to seal the win.
“The whole team, they’re all really willing to learn, and they’re doing a great job,” Kay said.
Area players qualify well
A host of area athletes made it through qualifying over the weekend and into the Round of 48 at the annual MPA singles tournament.
On the boys’ side, all three Lewiston singles players — the top three seeds in Region IV — made it through with ease. Adam St. Pierre of Winthrop, Josh Turbide of Dirigo, Zack DeBlois of St. Dom’s, and Brian Bradstreet of Oak Hill all made their way into the tournament, as well. Bradstreet’s qualifying performance included a thrilling 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win over Jason Laporte of Maranacook.
In girls’ qualifying action, Frankie Lally of Edward Little, the region’s top seed, skated through qualifying without dropping a game. All three singles players from Oak Hill — Sara Lacroix, Hannah Langlois and Darby Beaulieu — made the Round of 48. Beaulieu shook off a tough loss in her team’s match against Camden Hills on Friday to run through her qualifier, which included an upset win over Wendy Goldman of Hall-Dale.
Kerri Withee of Hall-Dale upended Carolyn Joseph of St. Dom’s in the day’s only other minor upset after Joseph withdrew due to injury. Lewiston’s triumvirate of Jessica Bowen, Abby Blaisdell and Becca Lessard advanced to the next round, as well.