The Carrabec girls tennis team began the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Class C South region. And coach Nora Ellis knows a few around the sport may have been surprised to see the Cobras sitting there.

“I guess we were kind of the underdogs,” she said. “I don’t think anyone had high hopes for us, I don’t think many teams were expecting us to be as good as we were.”

Carrabec, which began its postseason with a 5-0 win over Dirigo on Wednesday, is a team to watch, but it’s hardly alone in a C South girls bracket loaded with high local seeds and traditional powers. The Cobras (9-1) top the seedings, but are followed right after by No. 2 Winthrop (9-1) and No. 3 Hall-Dale (8-2), with 7-3 Madison — the lone team to beat Carrabec in the regular season — lurking in fifth. And those teams will all face tall tasks in getting by fourth-seeded Waynflete and sixth-seeded St. Dominic, which were the South finalists a season ago.

“With Waynflete and St. Dom’s, who play different schools, you don’t necessarily know how you compare until you play,” Ellis said. “That’s the point where the kids just need to be confident in themselves and just play their games.”

Several teams have already started. In the A North boys tennis quarterfinals, No. 4 Mt. Blue shook off No. 5 Mt. Ararat, 4-1, while No. 4 Waterville beat No. 5 Mt. Desert Island, 4-1, in the B North boys quarters. In the C South boys quarters, No. 4 Hall-Dale rebounded from a regular season loss to No. 5 Dirigo to beat the Cougars, while No. 3 Maranacook fell to No. 6 Yarmouth, 5-0, in the B South girls quarters.

“This was a good win for us, certainly,” Hall-Dale boys coach Dan Bence said. “We have a great first singles player in Malcolm Avore, and our second singles player, Ean Smith, has progressed a lot this year. He’s done really well.”

For most teams, however, the playoff run picks up Thursday, and that includes that C South girls bracket. Carrabec faces the winner of the Madison-Waynflete matchup, and Ellis says her team, led by top singles player and 11th seed in the state singles tournament, Katrina Mason, is ready for the challenge.

“She plays all the time, she’s super coachable. She’s just improved so much,” Ellis said. “She has been so pivotal in motivating my team to play better, to play like a team. I think that a lot of it has to do with Katrina’s really good leadership.”

Ellis said the Cobras’ climb atop the C South standings was due largely to how the team behind Mason adapted to the loss of second singles player Kelsey Creamer. Makayla Vicneire played up from third singles and flourished, and remained in the second spot even with Creamer back in time for the playoffs.

“She’s an athlete and she embraced that role,” Ellis said. “I’ve been so proud of how she’s been playing. She’s really developed quite the game, and I think she’s going to be a super competitor next year.”

On the other side of the C South girls bracket, Hall-Dale faces No. 6 St. Dominic on Thursday and Winthrop hosts No. 2 Boothbay.

In the boys tournament, Hall-Dale will face No. 1 Boothbay on Saturday after its win over Dirigo and the Seahawks’ victory over No. 8 Winthrop. Boothbay swept Hall-Dale in its two meetings this year, but the Bulldogs fell by narrow 3-2 scores. Bence said the team is eager for another shot at the top seed.

“In order to beat Boothbay our doubles have to win. We lost both doubles both times that we played them, and that’s huge,” he said. “If you can win the doubles, you have a really good chance of winning the match. … We really like playing Boothbay. They’re another good team, always really competitive.”

The scariest team in the field, however, is Waynflete, which is led by singles semifinalist Brandon Ameglio and has won nine straight Class C titles and 11 of the past 12.

“There are some very good teams that made it into that top half. Obviously Waynflete is the favorite,” Madison coach Travis Rogers said. “They’re kind of the gatekeeper for Class C tennis. If you want a state title, you’ve got to go through them.”

Rogers’s third-seeded Bulldogs face No. 6 St. Dominic on Thursday, and the coach says his team has displayed the demeanor of one ready for playoff tennis.

“That’s one of the things my guys have been good at this year, hitting the ball without fear of losing,” said Rogers, whose team has an undefeated second singles player in Kobe Tibbetts and unbeaten top doubles team in Tristan Small and Caleb Harper. “We won our conference championship, and I attribute a lot of that to our guys going out and playing an aggressive brand of tennis.”

In boys action, Mt. Blue, which overcame a loss at No. 1 singles to beat Mt. Ararat, will take on No. 1 and undefeated Brunswick in the A North semifinals Saturday. In B North, Waterville advances to the semifinals to face the winner of No. 1 Caribou and No. 8 Belfast on Saturday.

In girls action, No. 8 Cony faces No. 1 Lewiston, No. 6 Messalonskee plays No. 3 Brunswick and No. 4 Mt. Blue hosts No. 5 Brewer in the A North quarters today. In Class B, No. 5 Oak Hill visits defending champion and fourth seed Cape Elizabeth in the South quarters, while No. 4 Waterville hosts No. 5 Erskine in the North. The tilt is a rematch of the teams’ regular season finale, a 3-2 victory for Erskine (9-3) over Waterville (10-2).

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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