Even if you’re not a tennis fan, the concept of the Round of 48 singles tournament is a fun one. And if you are a tennis fan, how can you beat 64 matches in one day?
The tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Colby College in Waterville, and Monday at Bates College in Lewiston. Several local players are taking part on both the boys and girls sides, and two are among the top five girls seeds — No. 3 Bethany Hammond (Belgrade) of St. Dominic, and No. 5 Colleen O’Donnell of Waterville.
The first 64 matches in the tournament begin 8:30 a.m. Friday. The complete bracket is available online here. Friday’s matches could be moved to the Racket and Fitness Center on Congress Street in Portland. If the venue is changed, an update will be posted on the bracket website by early Friday morning.
O’Donnell is a veteran of the tournament, and she said her goal in the past was simply to get one step further than the year before. She reached the quarterfinals last year, and on Friday she’ll play at 2:15 p.m. against the winner of the 9:45 a.m. match between Waynflete’s Lexi Epstein and Presque Isle’s Hilary Boucher. O’Donnell said she won’t scout that match.
“When I watch (other people) play, it starts to get the nerves kicking in,” she said. “So I just focus on myself and go into the match.”
Hammond is a freshman but she’s used to the courts at Colby.
“I usually play there during the summer,” she said.
Hammond’s older sister, Sadie, is a Division I and professional prospect. Although Sadie is home-schooled and never competed in the Round of 48, she has watched matches in the past, and has competed with players like Brunswick’s Maisie Silverman, the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
“She told me to try my best and have fun with it, and have a good experience,” Bethany said.
Hammond plays at 3:45 against the winner of the 11:15 match between Mt. Desert Island’s Sarah Phelps and Windham’s Julia Richardson.
Hall-Dale’s Clio Barr was seeded second behind Hammond in the regional qualifying round. Barr is not one of the numbered seeds in the Round of 48, but she is one of the 16 girls who earned a first-round bye.
“I’m really excited because this is the farthest I’ve ever (been),” Barr said. “Obviously, it’s the best players in the state, so I think it’ll be a great experience playing them.”
Barr’s match is at 12:45, when she’ll face the winner of the 8:30 match between Caty Galligan of Cheverus and Greely’s Katherine Pare.
“It’s nice to be able to sort of watch the competition a little bit, then play later, and it’s not too late,” Barr said.
On the boys side, Waterville’s Zack Disch is in the opposite situation. Disch got one of the 16 first-round byes in the boys bracket, but his match isn’t until 5 p.m. — providing everything is still on schedule at that point. Disch takes on the winner of an 11:15 match pitting Monmouth’s Kasey Smith against Bangor’s Kenny Colpritt.
“I hate waiting for my first singles match in general,” Disch said. “I’d rather play first, get the pressure off.”
Still, Disch plans to arrive at the site well before his scheduled match.
“I think I’m going to show up pretty early,” he said. “I’d like to see the competition, and see who’s there. I’ve only seen eight guys who are there already.”
Another player with a first-round bye is Sullivan Abbott, a junior who plays No. 1 singles for Mt. Blue.
“I wasn’t too sure (I’d get a bye) because I had missed a few games this season, but I was kind of optimistic,” Abbott said.
Abbott plays at 2:15, when he’ll face the winner of a 9:45 match between Cape Elizabeth’s Eli Breed and Kennebunk’s Alex Pearson.
The rest of the local players are in first-round matches. At 8:30 a.m., Winthrop’s Alex Chamberland faces Lewiston’s Cole Ouellette, and Hall-Dale’s Joshua Peterson is up against Foxcroft’s Sam Keane. At 9:45, Ike Doiron of Mt. Blue will look to advance against Boothbay’s Nick Gorey. Skowhegan’s Devin Lachapelle takes the court at 11:15, when he’ll face Hampden’s Oakley Kilgour.
In the girls bracket, Mt. Blue’s Alyssa White has a travel advantage for her 8:30 match, as she faces Fort Kent’s Lauren Doak. White’s teammate, Eryn Doiron, takes on Scarborough’s Laura Henny at 11:15. Hall-Dale also has two players in the Round of 48, as Nicole Pelletier plays Cape Elizabeth’s Liv Clifford at 11:15. Also at 11:15, Messalonskee’s Kassadi McPherson has a first-round match with Deering’s Maddie Abbott.