Waterville boys tennis coach Jim Begin said during preseason that his team would need to win the 3-2 matches and would be battling for one of the final four playoff spots.

On the surface, it looks like Begin was doing a little sand-bagging. If you look at the Heal points standings this morning, Waterville is 5-1 and in second place in Eastern B. Still, nothing is wrapped up yet, as the meat of Waterville’s schedule is coming up.

Waterville has two wins against Winslow (0-6 this year) and one each against Belfast, Maine Central Institute and Medomak Valley. Belfast is the only one of that group with a winning record.

“(This) week and the week after will settle things a lot,” Begin said. “We’re winning the matches we should win.”

Begin is looking at upcoming matches with Maranacook (today), Morse, Oceanside and Camden Hills.

“We’ve got to at least split there,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good chance in all the matches, if we play consistently.”

Consistency has been a challenge for the Purple Panthers all season, in part because the team has only three players returning from last year’s varsity, and in part because Waterville has been missing players due to injury and other commitments. No. 1 singles player Callum Thomas and No. 1 doubles player Adrian Rivas are both part of the school’s state champion Science Olympiad team that is heading to the national tournament in Florida later this month.

At No. 2 doubles, Zack Disch is on his fifth doubles partner of the season, which led Begin to joke with him that Disch must have bad breath. Right now, Disch is paired with fellow sophomore Galen Lichterfeld. They’re not only doing well together, but they each won a singles match as Waterville played short-handed but pulled out a 3-2 win over Winslow.

“Zack’s been a good leader on the team, and Galen gets a little bit better every time,” Begin said. “The progress of my No. 2 doubles has been greater than I expected.”

* * *

The regional qualifying seeding meetings for this year’s state singles tournament will be Wednesday at five different sites across the state. The singles qualifying round is Saturday at seven different locations.

Local boys players will play at the Buker Courts in Augusta or at Lewiston High School. Local girls will play at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham or at Lewiston High. Matches start at 9 a.m. at all three sites.

* * *

Those players who advance to the Round of 48 state singles tournament will not be playing at Bates College as they have in years past. All three days of the Round of 48 (May 25, 26, and 28) will be at Colby College.

“That had to be switched due to a Bates graduation,” said Cooper Higgins, the chairman of the state singles tournament. “There are 10 courts at Colby, and there are only eight at Bates, so it may speed it up.”

The first matches will begin at 8:30 a.m. on May 25. The possible snag is that in case of rain, the indoor site is still the Racket & Fitness Center in Portland.

“The downside is, if it’s indoors, the decision has to be made real early,” Higgins said.

* * *

The Cony girls graduated their top three singles players from last spring. Moving into those spots have been Melanie Guzman, Alli Chase and Bethany Elwell. They’ve helped the Rams to a 2-2 record so far.

“They had never played singles before,” Cony coach Carol Patenaude said. “They’re all doing really well. They were really apprehensive, initially. They thought the singles position might be daunting.”

Patenaude said there are different concerns when playing singles, and one of the biggest is that you no longer have a partner there to settle you down.

“In singles, every point is longer,” Patenaude said. “It’s tougher that way, because you have to stay mentally focused. One of the harder things for all of these girls is they’re out there by themselves. They have to figure it out on their own.”

Because of rainouts, Cony has matches today, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. They’re all at home, but it’s still four matches in five days.

“I don’t know (what the effect will be), because it hasn’t happened before,” Patenaude said. “I think the girls have a lot of stamina. None of them are going to give up.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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