Singles play proved to be solid and Baiyu Liu was overpowering at No. 2 singles in a 6-0, 6-2 win as the Saints cruised to a 4-1 triumph over the Cougars at Richard Pierce courts.

The early-season showdown featured two of the top programs in the conference. The Saints and the Cougars were both missing players from their respective ladders, however the competitors who did play Monday made it interesting.

“This went the way I expected it to go,” said St. Dom’s coach Kevin Cullen, whose team is playing three more matches this week. “We have some strong singles (each won in straight sets), while I thought we’d struggle in doubles, but they both went to three sets. We talked after the match and our goal is still the same, battle every point and improve every day.”

St. Dom’s had taken a 2-1 lead behind the second doubles tandem of Jeffery Ahlquist and Cliff Greco, who refocused to win 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Cougars’ Aighdan and Griffyn Smith battled back to force a third set, but unforced errors proved costly.

The stage was set for Lin, and the exchange student was in command. Lin used a strong serve to dispatch Yossapat Chanavune in quickest match of the day.

“We are missing six kids who are still on vacation,” Dirigo coach Bruce Thompson said, admitting that he was unsure of what to expect. “If everyone would have been here, the score of the meet would have been closer, but St. Dom’s still would have come out on top.”

Dirigo earned its point as senior wrestlers Thomas Barnett and Cliff Boynton came from behind at No.1 doubles, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“We needed to adjust,” Barnett said. “We moved back on the court (creating space) so we could see better. We had a good forehand and forced them to play to backhand.”

The Saints’ Mike Blaich and Chris Laverdiere had started out strong to win the first set 6-2.

“We needed to get over the nerves,” said Boynton, who was playing in his first-ever match. “Our lob shots worked well.”

It was a straight-sets win by Austin Christopher at No. 3 singles that put the Saints ahead 1-0. Loren Keim of Dirigo was unable to run down Christopher’s pinpoint shots.

“Austin was our No. 2 singles last year,” Cullen said. “He has good hands, he was the goalie on our hockey team, so his reflexes are a big (asset).”

In the final match, Zach Deblois utilized a deep cross-court shots to get by Jeremy Grignon 6-1, 6-3.


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