LEWISTON — Evan Backus and Eryn Doiron welcomed Saturday’s swelter if for no other reason that it reminded them they were playing deeper into the spring than any Mt. Blue tennis players had before them.

Belgrade’s Bethany Hammond welcomed playing in the sauna at Lewiston High School’s Franklin Pasture Courts, too, because it beat the alternative. But as afternoon temperatures climbed into the mid-80s, she started to sense that the heat might ultimately be her toughest opponent.

Hammond, the No. 2 seed from St. Dominic Regional High School, ultimately beat the heat and seventh-seeded Caroline Ray of Falmouth to advance to Monday’s Maine Principals’ Association state singles tennis semifinals.

Backus and Doiron, seniors who became the first Mt. Blue players to advance to the Round of 16, wrapped up their historic tournament runs and high school singles careers with Round of 16 losses earlier in the day.

Hammond, a junior, rallied from a game down in each set to defeat Ray, 6-4, 7-5. But it wasn’t just the early deficits that gave Hammond the incentive to finish strong.

“It got really hot,” Hammond said. “I just knew I could not go into a third set. I just needed to focus and get through it. As much as the heat was bothering me, I knew it was bothering everyone else.”

Hammond still stayed patient enough and used her backhand to force Ray from side to side before finishing her off with perfectly-placed forehand returns that the equally-fatigued Ray couldn’t reach.

“I knew that if I just hit a regular backhand to her hard, we’d have gone into a deep rally. I was trying to end it as quick as I could,” she said.

Hammond, who made quick work of Cape Elizabeth’s Katie Gilman, 6-0, 6-0, in the Round of 16, will face third-seeded Julia Brogan of Falmouth in the semifinals at 9:30 a.m. at Bates College.

The top four seeds on both the boys and girls side reached the semifinals.

The unseeded Backus frustrated No. 2 Nick Forester, a freshman at Falmouth, numerous times during their Round of 16 match, even leading 2-1 in the first set before falling, 6-2, 6-2.

“I was hoping as a freshman I might be able to get into his head a little bit early, maybe fluster him,” Backus said. “He can definitely outhit me, so I was just trying to keep the ball in and out-rally him. That was my main goal.”

Forester had an easier time with Mt. Ararat’s Peter Mao, the No. 10 seed, in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-1. He will face No. 3 Dariy Vykhodtsev of Thornton Academy in the semifinals.

The other boys semifinals will pit top-seeded Nick Mathieu of Mt. Ararat against No. 4 Michael Mills of Cape Elizabeth.

The other girls semifinal features No. 1 Lana Mavor of Yarmouth against No. 4 Rosemary Campanella of Wells.

Campanella, a sophomore, showed impressive power in defeating the unseeded Doiron in the Round of 16, 6-0, 6-0.

“When she didn’t murder me on her serve, which she was great at, I’d just try to keep it deep and almost anticipate where it was going. But she’s obviously a great player,” Doiron said. “She hit her shots. I definitely had a better second set than first set.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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