ELLSWORTH — With the calendar set to turn to to June, the Maine high school tennis season has reached the next stage.
The regular season concluded with a series of tight battles between strong Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island teams last Thursday in Ellsworth and Monday in Bar Harbor. Select players from both schools also competed in the state singles tournament held over the weekend in Lewiston.
Last Thursday, the MDI boys’ and girls’ teams claimed hard-fought road victories over Ellsworth. The 3-2 wins, which came after the scheduled match between the two at Ellsworth High School was postponed from last Tuesday as a result of inclement weather, gave both MDI squads major boosts in the Class B North standings.
On the girls’ side, MDI got a No. 1 singles win from Lelia Weir (8-1) and No. 2 and No. 3 doubles wins from the duos of Jane Pope and Julia Perconti (8-0) and Avonlea Brown and Olivia Chandler (8-4), respectively. Ellsworth got wins in No. 2 singles from Sierra Andrews (8-4) and No. 3 singles from Megan Jordan (8-3).
In boys’ play, MDI got wins in No. 1 singles from Weston Granholm (8-3), No. 2 singles from Finn Seyffer (8-0) and No. 2 doubles from Jameson Weir and Moses Lincoln. Tate Carter claimed an 8-4 win in No. 3 singles for Ellsworth, which got a No. 1 doubles win from Kai and Koa Barrett (8-4).
The Ellsworth boys avenged their defeat Monday with a 3-2 victory over MDI in Bar Harbor. Liam Stephenson (No. 2 singles, 8-2), Kai and Koa Barrett (No. 1 doubles, 8-6) and Dallas Flood and Owen Frank (No. 2 doubles, 9-7) claimed wins for the Eagles, and Granholm (No. 1 singles, 8-3) and Jack Hodgdon (No. 3 singles, 8-6) earned victories for the Trojans. Both teams concluded the regular season at 9-3.
MDI’s girls’ team completed a season sweep over Ellsworth on Monday with another 3-2 win. The Trojans (11-1) got wins from Weir (No. 1 singles, 8-1), Pope and Perconti (No. 1 doubles, 8-0) and Brown and Chandler (No. 2 doubles, 8-4), and the Eagles got 8-3 victories from Andrews (No. 2 singles) and Jordan (No. 3 singles).
Prior to the matches against MDI, the Ellsworth girls’ team had yet to be beaten all season. Yet the Trojans, who had momentum of their own as they entered last Thursday’s contest with a nine-game winning streak, were able to use their strength in doubles play to crack the Eagles’ winning formula.
“My doubles teams have kind of been our secret ace in the hole this year,” said MDI head coach Dan Granholm. “Our duo of Jane and Julia, they’re seniors who just started playing this year, but they have this special bond that’s hard to break. They haven’t lost all year.”
Ellsworth’s girls’ team (10-2) got back in the win column Tuesday with a 4-1 home victory over Bangor in the regular season finale. Andrews (No. 2 singles, 8-6), Jocelyn Boudreau and Grace Gumpp (No. 1 doubles, 8-0) and Abby Bland and Kahlan Keene (No. 2 doubles, 8-4) all claimed wins for the Eagles, who claimed the fourth via a Bangor forfeit.
Jordan (11-0; 12-0 including the forfeit win) and Andrews (10-2) finished off strong regular seasons with their respective wins, and Ellsworth’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams also closed out successful campaigns at 9-3. Yet head coach Brian Higgins also praised the efforts of No. 1 singles player Bailey Clarke, who has taken on opposing teams’ top players all season long.
“As the No. 1, she always draws the toughest player,” Higgins said. “She’s always got to play somebody who’s really good and has been playing tennis for a long time, and she fights hard every time. I’ve been very pleased with
her this year.”
Ellsworth and MDI also sent multiple players to Lewiston High School over the weekend for the state singles tournament. Players from the two schools combined for three wins on the weekend with the Eagles’ Kai Barrett and the Trojans’ Lelia Weir and Weston Granholm advancing to the Round of 32.
Ellsworth’s Barrett claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Mount Blue’s Kaden Allen in the opening round before falling 6-2, 6-0 to No. 12 overall seed John Flynn of John Bapst in his second match. MDI’s Weir (6-1, 6-0 over Maranacook’s Paige Rice) and Granholm (6-0, 6-0 over Mount Blue’s Mike Ferrari) won their first matches decisively before falling to Round of 32 defeats.
“I was super excited that we were able to bring three kids for that tournament, and it was great for me as a first-year varsity coach to be able to see that whole scene,” Granholm said. “They performed so highly, and they learned so much.”
As of Wednesday, the Ellsworth and MDI boys’ teams were slated to host opening-round playoff matches as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds, respectively. MDI’s girls’ team had leapfrogged Waterville for the No. 1 spot, two places ahead of Ellsworth.
Should the MDI girls’ team earn the No. 1 seed in Class B North, it would likely join the George Stevens Academy boys as the second Hancock County team to claim one of the top spots. The Eagles (9-1) were more than 50 points ahead of second-place Orono in the Class C North standings as of Wednesday morning.
Postseason matchups will be announced once the standings have been finalized. The first playoff contests are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 1, though matches could also be played as early as this week.