For the top high school tennis teams in the state, this is the time of year when the matches get a little tougher. For the teams that just snuck into the playoffs, this is the time to build off little improvements and try to make a deep run in the tournament.

“We’re a very focused group that wants to get to the next level,” Hall-Dale High School girls tennis coach Guy Cousins, whose team is the top seed in Western Class C tournament, said.

The tournament begins with preliminary round matches on Tuesday, and regional quarterfinals on Thursday. Eastern regional finals are scheduled for Colby College in Waterville on June 9, with Western regional finals on June 11 at Bates College in Lewiston. State championships will be Saturday, June 13 at Colby.

Both the Hall-Dale girls and boys are undefeated at 12-0, and each earned the top seed in the Western Class C tournament. In the quarterfinals, both Bulldogs squads will host a Wiscasset team it beat in the regular season. The Hall-Dale boys beat Wiscasset 5-0 on May 15, but coach Dan Bence expects a closer match this time around.

“They have a very good coach (Chris Hammond). Whatever we did, he’s already making the adjustments,” Bence said.

The Hall-Dale girls lost just two sets the entire regular season. One was a number one singles match to St. Dominic’s Bethany Hammond, one of the top players in the state. The other was a doubles match to Wiscasset.

“I expect my first doubles team to come back with a little renewed energy,” Cousins said.

Waterville girls coach Jill Cristan also hopes a loss will serve as motivation for her team, although not in an immediate rematch. The Purple Panthers, the No. 3 seed in Eastern Class B, went 12-0 in the regular season, losing just one match, before falling to Lincoln Academy, 4-1, in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship.

“That was a wakeup call,” Cristan, whose team will face either No. 11 Winslow (6-6) or No. 6 Caribou (10-2) in the quarterfinals, said. “Having the girls know we have to be on our toes is huge. I think they were surprised.”

One of the more improved girls teams in Eastern Class A this season was Skowhegan. The Indians won just two matches in 2014, but went 6-6 this season to earn the No. 7 seed. Skowhegan will play at No. Brunswick (11-1) on Thursday. The Dragons beat Skowhegan, 4-1, on May 18.

“From an overall team standpoint, they’re just hardworking kids,” Skowhegan coach Andrew Staples said. “It will be a matter of our players not getting overwhelmed. We’ve played (Brunswick) already. There’s no surprised.”

In Eastern Class A boys, No. 5 Mt. Blue (8-4) plays at No. 4 Hampden (9-3) in the quarterfinals, while No. 7 Cony (6-6) is at No. 2 Mt. Ararat (11-1).

In Eastern Class B boys tennis, No. 9 Erskine (7-5) will play a preliminary round match at No. 8 Foxcroft Academy. No. 3 Waterville (11-1) will host either No. 6 John Bapst (5-7) or No. 11 Washington Academy (6-6) in the quarterfinals. In Western Class B boys, No. 5 Gardiner (8-4) will play a quarterfinal match at No. 4 Lincoln (6-6).

Along with the Hall-Dale-Wiscasset match in Western Class C boys, No. 4 Monmouth (8-4) hosts No. 5 St. Dominic (8-4), No. 6 Winthrop (7-5) is at No. 3 Boothbay (11-1), and No. 7 Madison (6-6) travels to No. 2 Waynflete (11-1).

In girls Eastern Class A, No. 4 Mt. Blue (9-3) hosts No. 5 Brewer (8-4) in the quarterfinals. In Eastern Class B girls, No. 12 Erskine (4-8) is at No. 5 Ellsworth (8-4) for the prelims, while No. 11 Winslow (6-6) is at No. 6 Caribou (10-2). In Western Class B girls, No. 8 Maranacook (4-8) hosts a preliminary round match against No. 9 York (4-8), and No. 10 Lake Region (4-8) is at No. 7 Oak Hill (6-6). In the Western B quarters, No. 5 Morse (7-5) is at No. 4 Gardiner (8-4).

Joining Hall-Dale vs. Wiscasset in the Western Class C girls quarterfinals is No. 7 Waynflete (5-7) at No. 2 Winthrop (10-2), and No. 5 Carrabec (9-3) at No. 4 North Yarmouth Academy (9-3).

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM