HALLOWELL — Even though both schools agreed on short notice to move the starting time up an hour, the rain arrived earlier than expected and forced Friday’s matchup of two of the Mountain Valley Conference’s top girls tennis teams — Winthrop and Hall-Dale — to end without a resolution. The teams will resume the match at a later date to be determined with Winthrop leading the five-match meet, 1-0.

The eventual outcome could have a big say in who will be playing in the MVC championship, as both teams have just one loss with a little less than two weeks remaining in the regular season. But once they decided it was too slippery and there was too much standing water on the courts to continue, both sides shifted their focus to Saturday’s regional qualifying round of the state singles tournament, which are at 9 a.m. at Lewiston High School.

No other high school sport delineates team and individual advancement like tennis, with its separate singles and team tournaments. Transitioning so quickly from one to the other

“We were just having the conversation about why did they want to sign up for the singles tournament. It’s about competing, having fun and continuing to improve their tennis,” Hall-Dale co-coach Guy Cousins said. “They’re going to be playing against some of the best singles tennis players across the state. I don’t think it’s much of a transition for them because, one, they like to compete, they have fun playing tennis. And, two, they’re hungry to become better.”

Saturday’s winners advance to the round of 48, which is on May 27, the day after the team tennis regular season ends.

Winthrop and Hall-Dale enter the weekend with matching 6-1 records but with different expectations.


The Ramblers, who lost to the Bulldogs in last year’s MVC championship, went into this season with their top three singles of juniors Megan Chamberland and Sarah Spahr and senior Celeste Hannum back accompanied by high expectations. Their only setback was a tight, 3-2, loss to still-unbeaten St. Dominic in the second match of the season,

“It was good to see where we were and what we had to work on. It gave us some points of emphasis in practice,” coach Jessica Merrill said. “Our goal is to get the MVC (championship) and we know each game is really important, so we focus one at a time.”

“Consistency has been a big thing for us,” Merrill said. “We know that with Carrabec and Hall-Dale coming up that we really need to make sure that we’re consistent with all of our shots and we’re following through on all of our shots and moving our feet. It’s paying off.”

With more than half of the roster consisting of seniors and juniors, the Ramblers see this season as an opportunity to take the next step.

“We’re motivating each other. We’re always motivating each other and trying to give each other points on the match,” Spahr said.

Winthrop’s remaining schedule features the other three teams battling it for MVC supremacy and Class C South seeding — Hall-Dale, Carrabec and a rematch with St. Dom’s. Merrill went into the season believing the Ramblers were the team to beat in the conference and isn’t ceding anything to St. Dom’s, despite its record and victory over her team earlier in the season.


“I think we are (the team to beat),” she said. “I don’t think they’ve proven that they’re any better than us. I think they just kind of got us that day. We’ll get another shot at them (in the May 23 season finale) and we’ll see. We think we have a target on our backs, so we’re playing every day like that. We know that we have a lot of work to do and a lot of pressure is on us.”

As winners of three of the last four MVC titles, Hall-Dale is usually the team with the target on its back. But after losing their top four players to graduation, the Bulldogs went into the season without any assumptions.

“It’s not about outcome so much as putting the work in and giving the full effort for as long as they can,” said co-coach Meg Cousins, Guy’s daughter. “We’ve been managing expectations at times, but they’re stepping up to it.”

Singles players Rose Warren, Thea Sweet and Addie Davis have the Bulldogs playing well through the first three weeks of the season despite the fact that low numbers and injuries have forced them to forfeit a few doubles matches. Their only loss came Tuesday against Carrabec, 3-2, but the Cousins said they are looking for consistent improvement and effort and how they react to setbacks.

“We’ve got some competition and the girls have had to work hard to rise up to the level,” Guy Cousins said. “We’ve had some adversity in terms of some players being out. When you have to go into a match already one point down, there’s not a lot of margin for error there. It’s a great challenge for the girls, and they’re incredibly mature meeting that adversity.”

Randy Whitehouse 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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