Gracie Ross of Mt. Blue returns the ball during the state singles tennis tournament in May at Bates College in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Mt. Blue senior Gracie Ross was tough to beat on the tennis court this spring, going 11-1 and dropping only two sets during the regular season.

Her key to success?

“Honestly, just having fun with it and not stressing over winning too much,” said Ross, who has been selected as the Sun Journal’s All-Region Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

In 2023, Ross let negative thoughts creep into her head and impact her play. She went 4-8 record. This spring, she said she was more confident in her skills and didn’t doubt herself like she did the year before.

Mt. Blue girls tennis coach Griffin Conlogue said a positive mindset helped Ross in 2024.

“There were definitely times last year where she would go into a match and kind of being like, ‘This one is going to be tough,'” Conlogue said. “… This year, she was very loose — she was the captain the last two seasons and had a lot of responsibility in creating the culture of the team. She was just very relaxed and always went in with a great attitude every single match.


“Other than one or two, she played her best every single match, and she wasn’t giving away points. She was playing comfortably and confidently.”

The more Ross won in 2024, the more her confidence grew.

“Especially after last year, where I didn’t have as many wins,” Ross said. “It was really nice to get those wins.”

The lone loss came against Cony’s Kira Gregor — who reached the quarterfinals of the state singles tournament. The two sets against Gregor were the only two Ross lost during the regular season.

Along with more positive vibes heading into matches, Ross’ serve was improved this season and gave her opponents trouble.

“I worked on my serve quite a bit, and learning on not getting so frustrated and staying even-minded,” Ross said. “That helped me a lot.”


Ross focused on getting more of her first serves in play accurately. Conlogue said she also didn’t hesitate with her serves as much as in 2023.

“A lot of times, she wouldn’t miss her first serve but take something off if she wasn’t hitting that consistently, so she would hit it a little more consistently,” Conlogue said. “Where this year, she could serve it at 100 percent and land a much higher percent than she did last year.”

Ross entered the singles state tournament unseeded, then defeated Annabelle Holman of Foxcroft Academy 3-6, 7-5 (11-9) in the opening round. Zoe Castrucci of Hampden Academy, the No. 12 seed, defeated Ross 6-1, 6-0 in the Round of 32.

“I was pretty happy that I got to be there,” Ross said. “I wasn’t super upset that I didn’t get past the (Round of) 32. I just went in: ‘Oh, I am happy to play, and hopefully I get some wins.'”

Conlogue said as a captain, Ross gave attention to the entire roster, which included a large freshmen class and a few upperclassmen that hadn’t played tennis before.

“She always made sure to work with the younger players and made sure they were invited to things,” Conlogue said. “It was a small group, we only had 13 players on the team, but she made sure everybody on the team was on the exact same level on the team — whether they were the lowest player on our ladder to the second-best player on our ladder, after her.”

Ross, who plans to attend Central Maine Community College in the fall to study graphic communications, said she enjoyed her four years of playing tennis.

“It was definitely my most fun sport — because I also did soccer and Nordic (skiing),” Ross said. “Tennis is the sport I can take a deep breath and have fun.”

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