Lavertu spurs youth movement

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LEWISTON – Lewiston High School No. 1 tennis player, Chantalle Lavertu, is still a freshman, but she is learning awfully quickly how to gain senior-like respect on the court.

Lavertu, ranked fourth at the 2006 MPA Singles Tournament, gutted out a 7-5, 7-6 (3) win over No. 5 seed Jean Gulliver of Falmouth on Saturday at Bates College to advance into the semifinals.

“The points were really, really long,” said Lavertu. “I just tried hitting to her forehand. That was her weaker side and the points went on forever.”

Lavertu was one of a host of freshmen making their marks. Lavertu’s opponent in the semifinals Monday morning is another freshman, Christine Ordway of Waynflete, the No. 1 overall seed.

“I’ve never actually hit against her in a real match,” said Lavertu. “I’ve hit with her in practice. She’s a really good player. She has very powerful shots and she’s ranked fourth in New England.”

Ordway, Lavertu, Hallsey Leighton of Falmouth, Mike Hill of Mt. Ararat and sophomore Neall Oliver of Deering were part of a large youth movement at this year’s tournament, setting up some solid showdowns for the next few years. Ironically, all of the players play at the same club in the off-season, and all but Oliver are freshmen.

Lavertu, meanwhile, becomes the first Lewiston girl since Sadie Roy in 1999 to make it to the final four.

“She held her poise out there,” said Lewiston coach Anita Murphy. “There were times where she was down, two-love in the second set, then 3-1, 4-2, and she came back.”

Ordway breezed, losing four games in three matches to reach the semifinals. The two join Leighton, who upset No. 3 Lauren Coupal of York in the quarterfinals and Kristen Meahl of Falmouth, a 6-0, 6-2 victor over over Erin Flynn of John Bapst, in the final four.

Ali Dick was the only other local player in the girls’ draw. The Winthrop player fell to Flynn, the No. 7 seed, in the round of 32.

Lewiston’s boys didn’t fare as well as Lavertu. Both unranked, James Morin and Mike Sarrazin each suffered an early defeat, though Morin made it to the round of 16.

Morin’s opponent, fifth-seeded Joey Michalakes of Camden Hills, struggled early against the scrappy Blue Devil senior, but outlasted Morin 6-4, 6-1.

“I’ve played him a couple times, and this is probably the best match we’ve had,” said Morin. “I have no regrets. I thought I played very good tennis and he stepped it up and he deserved to move on.”

Sarrazin, meanwhile, started slowly and then couldn’t play his game from behind as he fell in three sets to Andrew Goldsmith of Kennebunk, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

“I couldn’t move,” said Sarrazin. “He was just like me, pretty much.”

“He didn’t play intelligently,” said Lewiston coach Ron Chicoine. “If he had played smarter, he would have beat the guy in straight sets. Instead, he tried to out-hit a banger.”

Winthrop’s Ryan Czado nearly punched his ticket to the final eight, taking No. 8 seed Sam Hyland of Falmouth, another of the young guns at the tournament, to three sets before falling 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

“I came out focused at first, but then in the second set he came out gunning,” said Czado. “I got lazy, couldn’t get anything going, and then I ran out of gas.”

Lavertu will face Ordway at 11 a.m. on Monday in one semifinal, while Coupal and Meahl will square off in the other.

On the boys’ side, defending champion Eliot Potvin (a junior) of Hampden Academy draws Oliver in one semifinal, while Hill will see Parker Swenson of North Yarmouth Academy in his semifinal. Swenson won the last match of the night Saturday, 6-1, 5-1 (retired) over Mike Van Vogt of Lincoln Academy.

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