LEWISTON – You can’t fault Erskine Academy’s tennis teams for being a bit nervous Friday – it was their first match at the Class A level, having moved up from Class B in the off-season.
And on top of that, they drew perennial title-contender Lewiston against which to open the season. Ouch.
“It was daunting to say the least,” said Erskine girls’ coach Richard Albert. “All week, we’ve been trying to keep the girls as positive as possible.”
Lewiston, with one of its youngest teams in recent memory, took little pity on the newcomers, though.
Playing without one of their top-three singles players, the Blue Devils’ girls’ team still lost just seven games in five matches on their way to a 5-0 win over the Eagles, while the boys, playing with just one of their seven varsity players from last season’s state title team, pounded out a 4-1 win.
“We’re pretty happy we did as well as we did with the lineup we had today,” said Lewiston boys’ coach Ron Chicoine, entering his fourth season at the helm of the storied program.
Devyn Cote, a doubles player last season, sat out for the Lewiston boys after missing a week of practice, and Mike Sarrazin, normally a singles player and last year’s No. 3, was also gone.
Senior James Morin, the lone returning starter in the match Friday, mopped up at No. 1 singles, winning 6-1, 6-1 in less than one hour against Mason Carney.
“The first match is never really easy,” said Morin. “There are too many unknowns. Getting the W’ today was important for us to build on.”
On the girls’ side, veteran Katelyn Ouellette missed the match Friday, which forced coach Anita Murphy to split up twins Julia and Audrey Bergeron at doubles. Julia played at No. 3 singles Friday, winning easily, 6-0, 6-0 over Emily Powell. Audry paired up with senior Jessica Roy, and they won at No. 2 doubles over Janelle Robbins and Meg Kruithoff, 6-0, 6-4, setting up an interesting situation as Murphy and the rest of her young team head into the season. The team’s other doubles tandem of Kasey Boucher and Ann Danforth played solidly, too, scoring a 6-1, 6-0 win over Erin Corey and Laurel Ferland. When Ouellette returns next week, and the twins are re-united, there will be one extra player vying for a doubles position.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Murphy. “A lot of people would love to have this problem on their own team, but it’s hard. They all deserve to play.”
Chantalle Lavertu, playing in her first varsity match as a freshman, ousted Erskine’s Jade Glidden at No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-0 for the Blue Devils final point of the afternoon. Ashley McWhorter also won quickly for Lewiston, 6-0, 6-2.
On the boys’ side, freshman Mike Butler swept Brandon Newman 6-0, 6-0, freshman Ben McDonough took care of Ross Miller at No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-4, and senior newcomer Toby Poirier paired with Matt Letourneau to outlast Alex Kenoyer and Ross Keller at No. 1 doubles, 6-1, 7-5.
Lewiston lone defeat came at No. 2 doubles, where Zach Newman and Jose Cortez of Erskine out-slugged Andrew Marden and Zac Racine 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.