WATERVILLE, Maine — Expectations have been high throughout the spring for the Camden Hills of Rockport boys tennis team.
Not only did the Windjammers return all seven starters from last year’s Eastern Maine Class B championship team, they added a senior transfer from another sport who worked his way onto the first doubles tandem.
Those expectations were realized at Colby College on Wednesday as second-seeded Camden Hills defeated top-ranked and previously undefeated Ellsworth 4-1 to win its second straight regional title.
“We knew we’d be a strong team coming in because we’d had our run from last year and it was great to get to the state finals,” said Camden Hills first singles player Austin Pohlman, one of three senior starters for the Windjammers.
“I wouldn’t say we expected to do it again because teams change and we knew there would still be good competition, but we knew if we worked hard we’d still have a good shot at it.”
The win advances Camden Hills (14-1) to Saturday’s 9:15 a.m. state final at Lewiston High School against the winner of Thursday’s Western B match between defending state champion Cape Elizabeth and Morse of Bath, the only team to defeat the Windjammers this spring.
Cape Elizabeth defeated Camden Hills 5-0 in last year’s state match.
“Certainly at the beginning of the season we had a goal and an expectation of getting to the state final again,” said Camden Hills coach Noah Capetta. “So I’m very proud of the guys, they’ve worked very hard all season.”
Ellsworth, which fielded an all-senior lineup, ends its season at 14-1.
Camden Hills found early success against the Eagles in doubles.
Senior Josiah Simko and junior Alex Forcillo gave the Windjammers a 1-0 lead by yielding just one game in a two-set victory over John Fendl and Kyle Lima at second doubles.
Senior Jared Garske, who switched from baseball to tennis for his final spring of competition, and sophomore Colby Arau then secured a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ellsworth’s Anthony Gardner and Jarrod Whitney at first doubles.
“That’s been a general theme, including last year,” said Pohlman of Camden Hills’ doubles success. “But the addition of Jared Garske this year from baseball has been a great addition to doubles.”
Sophomore third seed Matt Morse scored the clinching point with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Adil Khan.
“My first serve was on, I aced him a couple of times and had a lot of non-returners,” said Morse. “I didn’t do much serving-and-volleying but when I realized I had a good shot I hustled to the net.”
Top-seeded Evan Toothaker scored Ellsworth’s lone win with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4 victory over Pohlman, while Camden Hills second seed Josiah Krul closed out the scoring with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-2, 10-5 match tiebreaker victory over Alec Toothaker.
“Our mantra for the season is, ‘We’re taking nothing for granted,’” said Capetta. “We always like our chances and we always come in with a strong level of confidence, but we take no team for granted. I think the team took that seriously and stepped it up in their play today.”
In Class C, top-ranked George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill won its sixth straight regional title and ninth in the last 10 years by scoring five straight-sets victories over No. 3 Piscataquis of Guilford.
GSA (14-1) will face Waynflete of Portland or Hall-Dale of Farmingdale in Saturday’s state final.
Coach Larry Gray’s club used victories by its first doubles team of Tim Dentino and Matt Stephens and second singles player Nate Boechat to take a quick 2-0 lead, then third singles player Luke Theoharidis fought past Piscataquis’ Tristan French 6-3, 6-3 for the clinching point.
The Eagles’ Tate Yoder fought past Mitchel Noyes 6-1, 7-5 at first singles before Ben Politte and David Reinke closed out the match with a win at second doubles.
Coach Emily Wilson’s Piscataquis program, which has fielded a varsity tennis program for just four years and had several first-year players among its starting lineup, finished its season with a 10-3 record.
In Class A, No. 2 Mt. Ararat of Topsham swept the singles matches to defeat No. 1 Brunswick 3-2 and win its second straight regional championship.
The Eagles (14-1) will face either Falmouth or Thornton Academy of Saco in Saturday’s state final.
Mt. Ararat was paced by two-time state singles finalist Nick Mathieu, a sophomore who defeated Brunswick’s Ross Munn without losing a game at first singles.
The Eagles’ Peter Mao defeated Dasol Kim 6-2, 6-1 at second singles and Trevor Mayo topped Lincoln Sullivan 7-5, 6-2 at third singles.
Brunswick (13-2) got straight-set victories from Ollie Smith and J.D. Souza at first doubles and Ben Lord and Luke Estabrook at second doubles.