ORONO — Illness forced coach Jill Cristan to juggle the lineup of the Waterville Senior High School girls tennis team, but the result was the same as the last two years. A Waterville win in the Eastern Class B championship.

The Panthers defeated Ellsworth 4-1 at the University of Maine, to win their third consecutive regional title and sixth Eastern Maine crown in eight years. Waterville (15-0) will face five-time defending state champion Falmouth in the state championship match Saturday.

Ellsworth ends the season at 13-2.

“We had to mix it up, and did a great job,” Cristan said. “They stepped up their game again.”

The Panthers overcame illness to doubles player Jayme Saulter, who became sick on the drive from Waterville to Orono.

Saulter’s illness forced Cristan to move Federica Miele from third singles to first doubles, and to call the school for reinforcements. Olivia Benissan was on her way from Waterville to play third singles, but didn’t make it in time for her match, and the Panthers were forced to forfeit third singles to the Eagles.

It was the only win of the day for Ellsworth, which was overmatched everywhere else.

Colleen O’Donnell earned Waterville’s first win of the day, at first singles, beating Ina Maloney, 6-0, 6-1.

“It was a little freaky having (Saulter) get sick, but we were confident with the rest of the team,” O’Donnell said.

The key was keeping her serve in, despite a strong wind, O’Donnell said.

“(Maloney) came to the net a lot. She had a pretty hard shot, but I returned it.”

Tiffany Suchanek’s win at second singles, 6-0, 6-0, over Jessica Toothaker, gave the Panthers two matches.

“The key was to keep moving my feet,” Suchanek said.

The Panthers second doubles team of Emma Cristan and Emily Dufour clinched the win with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Melissa Klemt and Jesie Schamle. The first doubles match was the closest of the day, with Waterville’s Lauren Hallenbeck and Miele defeating Mackenzie Myers and Sarah Shelton, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

“Federica is a girl who’s been put into a singles spot. Today she was put into doubles and did a great job,” Coach Cristan said. “She hasn’t played with Lauren, only in practice.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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