LEWISTON — It took Alanna Taylor a few games to find her footing Monday against Brunswick High School’s Cassie Ridge during their tennis match at No. 2 singles.

By the time she did, two of her Lewiston teammates’ matches were over, and two other matches were on the cusp of a third set.

“I expected to see a hard-hitter, and she started lobbing and lobbing and lobbing,” Taylor said. “I hit better against harder-hitting players, so I had to figure it out.”

Taylor, a senior, used the information she gleaned from the first set and parlayed that into a much quicker second, scoring the clinching point in the Blue Devils’ 3-2 match victory over the Dragons.

“Looking around, it motivated me more, because it gives me more pressure, like, I have to win,” Taylor said. “That does’t make me nervous, it makes me want to do better.”

The victory clinches a perfect regular season for the Devils (12-0), and assures them of the top seed in the Class A North playoffs. Brunswick, which has one more match to play Tuesday against 10-1 Mt. Blue, is also 10-1. That match will determine second and third places.

Taylor’s victory may have clinched the match, sending the gathered Lewiston onlookers to cheers and high-fives, but it was a gusty comeback at No. 1 doubles that gave the whole team momentum when it needed it. Lewiston’s Maddie LeBlond and Chloe Morin dropped five of the first seven games in the opening set and were in danger of falling quickly. But the tandem rallied to 5-5 before ultimately losing to Brunswick’s Katharine Kuhnhardt and Gillian Doehring 7-5.

But that small comeback was foretelling.

“Physically, we just had to stop setting them up at net,” LeBlond said. “They hit a lot of deep balls and we were hitting back to them right at the net. And mentally, we had to forget about the first half of that first set.”

In the second, LeBlond and Morin ran away 6-2, and finished the match winning 10 games in a row, including a 6-0 third set, earning the Devils’ second point.

“We figured out placement, that was a big thing,” Morin said. “We figured out they like to hit a lot to the backcourt, so I had to stand back more. We played tough and communicated well.”

Lewiston’s first point came from senior Maddi Roy at No. 1 singles. Roy shot out of the gate, forced errors and had Brunswick No. 1 Kaira Walpow on the ropes, putting her down 6-0 in the first and running the score to 5-2 in the second.

“I told here, though, this is a good player,” Lewiston coach Anita Murphy said. “I told her not to get back on her heels.”

In what was more likely fatigue than settling into a false sense of security, Roy started dropping points. Walpow started hitting her winners, and evened the match at 5-5, and then 6-6 to force a tiebreak. That was close, at 4-4, until Roy smashed the final three points to earn a 6-0, 7-6 (4) win.

“She has a really, really fast forehand, and at first I was wondering why she was able to hit that over and over again,” Roy said. “It took me the entire set to figure out I needed to hit it to her backhand instead. I figured it out, though. That’s what matters.

“I was thinking, if I had gone into a third set, I probably would have lost, because I would have been exhausted,” Roy added. “I had to figure out right then what I needed to do differently.”

The first points of the match went Brunswick’s way. The Dragons’ second doubles tandem of Sabina Smith and Rae Bamberger made short work of Lewiston’s No. 2 doubles team of Corinne Faberge and Sienna Melanson, winning 6-0, 6-1 in less than an hour.

The final match to finish was another three-setter, at No. 3 singles. Brunswick’s Elizabeth Day outlasted Lizzy Michaud of Lewiston, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 for her team’s second point.

The match was tight throughout, something both coaches expected.

“We know it’s always going to be close with these two teams, it always is,” Brunswick coach Rob Manter said. “Sometimes they go our way, sometimes they don’t.”

“When I left the house, I said to my husband, ‘Judging by scores against other teams we’ve played, I think it will be 3-2 either way,’” Murphy said. “It didn’t start out that way, but the girls played well.”

The anticipation for the matchup of unbeaten teams was heightened by multiple postponements, which forced it to the back end of the schedule.

“That made it more fun,” Manter said.

If Brunswick wins Tuesday, the Dragons will face Lewiston again Thursday in the KVAC championship match, and the teams will be seeded first and second in the Class A North playoffs, and heavy favorites to meet again in that bracket’s final match in June.

“We knew it was going to come down to this,” Murphy said. “If it’s going to be two teams, it might as well be these two.”


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