It’s not often that Madelyn Dwyer gets nervous on the tennis court. As Maranacook Community High School’s No. 1 singles player since her freshman season, Dwyer has seen plenty of tough opponents. Yet when she took the court in the Class C state championship match to face Mattanawcook’s Natalie Tilton, Dwyer felt the butterflies.

“I felt really nervous when we went to states, so I totally tanked the first three games,” Dwyer, who recently completed her junior year, said. “Then I just kind of realized I just have to get the ball back. Keep the ball in play. My coach (Lou Gingras) is really good at making sure there’s no pressure on us. He says, ‘Go out there, play your game, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.’

When the nerves subsided, Dwyer’s ability took over. She rallied to take the first set, 7-6, with a 7-5 win in the tiebreaker. Dwyer won the second set 6-1 to take the match. It was her second win of the season over a player who advanced to the final 16 of the state singles tournament.

While Mattanawcook went on to win the state match, 3-2, it was an historic season for Dwyer and the Black Bears, who won the first girls tennis regional crown in school history.

“It was an amazing feeling. It was really awesome to make history,” Dwyer said.

For her individual accomplishments, as well as leading Maranacook to the Class C South championship, Madelyn Dwyer is the Kennebec Journal Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Dwyer began playing tennis at age 5 with lessons at the Augusta Country Club. When she joined the Maranacook team as a freshman, Dwyer quickly became the team’s No. 1 player.

“Having played No. 1 for three years gives her that experience,” Gingras said.

That experience paid off in some of Dwyer’s biggest matches. Days before defeating Tilton, Dwyer took a three set match from Carrabec’s Katrina Mason, who like Tilton advanced to the round of 16. Dwyer took the first set easily, 6-0, before Mason rallied with a 6-3 win in the second. Dwyer’s 6-4 win in the third set tied the match at 2-2, setting up her teammate Emma Wadsworth to propel the Black Bears to states with her win at second singles.

“It was a marathon match,” Dwyer said of playing Mason. “We had such long points. It was really hard to keep it in mentally, but I find that’s one of my strong things, staying in it mentally and not letting the pressure get to me.”

Dwyer stays mentally sharp in matches by not getting ahead of herself and focusing on the task at hand.

“I just think about getting the ball back in play. I focus on one point at a time and getting the ball back in there, not trying to do anything crazy with it,” she said.

“The thing I’ve stressed with her, and my other singles players, is just go out and play your game,” Gingras said. “Don’t try to outhit someone who can hit better than you can or harder than you can. You know your game the best, so stay with it and good things happen… We tried working on getting the ball out of the middle of the court. That paid off at the end.”

Dwyer worked in the offseason to add strength to her game.

“I played a lot over the winter, so the main focus for me was hitting with more power. I’m a pretty consistent player, so being able to get some power in my shots and being able to place them really helps me over my opponents,” Dwyer said.

Next year, as a senior, Dwyer hopes to help Maranacook build on the success the team enjoyed this season. Wins over two of the state’s top players this season showed Dwyer she can play with the best and Dwyer would like to make a deeper run in the singles tournament.

“Really for me personally, it’s to get farther in the state singles. I beat those two top 16 this year, and I’d really like to see if I can get there next year,” Dwyer said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM