ELLSWORTH – It was a literally a long and winding road to the Eastern Maine Class C championship for the George Stevens Academy boys tennis team.
That’s because both GSA and Orono trekked to Colby College in Waterville expecting to play their match outdoors Wednesday afternoon, but when rain began to fall in central Maine, Plan B was a trip back northeast to the Ellsworth Tennis Center, where the Eagles won three of the first four matches that were completed to earn a 3-2 victory.
The Class C girls final between George Stevens and Orono was postponed due to the weather, and will be played indoors today at 2 p.m. at Bangor Tennis in Hampden.
Wednesday’s victory gave the second-seeded GSA boys (13-2) their fourth regional title in the last five years – a run interrupted only by Orono’s championship season last spring. The Eagles will vie for their second state crown in the last three years Saturday at Lewiston High School.
Top-ranked Orono finishes 13-2.
These teams split a pair of 3-2 victories during the regular season, but George Stevens – which scored its earlier win over Orono by winning all three singles matches – got the early momentum thanks to a 6-0, 6-3 victory by its second doubles combo of Dillon Morris and Seth Brayton over Orono’s Emmitt Harrity and Kyle Weiland.
“It was really nice that one of the doubles could win,” said GSA second singles player Zach Huckel-Bauer, a senior who also played on GSA’s 2004 state championship team. “The last match we won with all singles, which is unheard of because usually we’re a doubles type of team. But it was good to see our doubles step up and take some of the pressure off, and hopefully they’ll keep playing well and bring it to states because that would make the matches a lot easier for us.”
Huckel-Bauer defeated Keith Hedrick 6-4, 6-1 to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead before Orono got on the board as its talented first doubles duo of Tommy Boyle and Angus Rose topped Austin Dobson and Dylan Stewart 6-2, 6-3.
GSA clinched the match at third singles, where junior Julian Davis topped Orono’s Nate Curtis 6-3, 6-4.
“In order to win today we had to first of all pick up second doubles or third singles,” said Orono coach Dean Armstrong. “We were hoping for a second doubles win, which we had at GSA, but they came out this time and played awesome. They didn’t miss a lot, we made the errors.
Top seeds Nimesh Patel of Orono and Cooper Mor of GSA played the final match of the day on the four-court layout, with the senior Patel capping off his high school career with a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-5 victory.
“I thought we had to win one of the doubles,” said GSA coach Larry Gray. “Their first doubles were pretty much invincible for us, so we had to win second doubles. Zach and Julian have been solid all year, and Nimesh and Cooper had split so that was a tough call. We knew it was going to be a close match.”