They’re separate programs, but the Waterville boys and girls tennis teams share a bond.

Both teams have a history of winning. Throughout the year, members of both teams play together, and practice together, and follow each other’s accomplishments.

“Even going back to the earlier years, I would always hit with the boys in the summer, they’ve taken lessons from me and done all our summer programs, and a bunch of girls on my team have taken lessons in the past from (boys coach) Jason (Tardif),” Waterville girls coach Devin LaChapelle said. “They support each other a lot. We don’t really see it as two teams. It’s really kind of one big team.”

The teams that work together, succeed together. The state singles tournament kicks off this Friday with the Round of 52, and the Waterville teams combined to have five players make the cut. Charlie Haberstock, Owen Evans and Josiah Bloom made it from the boys team, with Haberstock seeded sixth overall and therefore earning a bye into Friday afternoon’s Round of 32. Inga Zimba and Keira Gilman qualified from the girls team, with Zimba also seeded sixth and getting the same bye into the Round of 32.

LaChapelle said it’s not a coincidence to see the success from both teams.

“They’re always hitting together. We’ll have our practices and I’ll be leaving, and they’ll be out there playing doubles again, some of the boys and the girls,” LaChapelle said. “They support each other a lot.”

Tardif, in his first season leading the boys team, has seen that close culture as well.

“They get together a lot during the season, and before the season they’d get together and play singles and doubles,” he said. “We do that at practice, where I’ll have some of my doubles players play against some of their players, and give them a little more competition and some different people to play against. It’s worked out pretty well.”

Waterville singles player Owen Evans returns the ball during an April 8 scrimmage against Carrabec at the North Street tennis courts in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Haberstock is back in the field after reaching the Round of 16 as a sophomore two years ago, and will play either Yarmouth’s Asher Lockwood or Presque Isle’s Landon Thompson. Evans (playing Edward Little’s Jonah Chen) and Bloom (playing Belfast’s Hezekiah Agbuya) are in the state rounds for the first time. The three led Waterville to an 11-0 record going into Tuesday.

“I definitely thought we were capable of it. I wasn’t sure how it would all work out, or what the other teams would look like,” Tardif said. “I’m very pleased with how they’ve played, and how they’ve done. Hopefully, they can finish strong.”

The Waterville girls are 10-0, and while LaChapelle had a feeling Zimba would make it to this point, he said he was pleased to see Gilman, a doubles player who was a late addition to the entries, make the cut. Gilman had to beat the seventh seed of Waterville’s region, Mt. Ararat’s Anna Volpert, to make it, and she’ll open with Gorham’s Abby Emerson.

“Kiera’s a good player, and she can adapt pretty well to playing singles,” LaChapelle said. “She has the drive to get better, and I think she kind of surprised herself.”

On the girls side, Hall-Dale’s Naomi Lynch, who’s 9-0 this season and hasn’t lost a match in team play since 2018, earned the No. 10 seed and a bye into the Round of 32. After an injury knocked her out of the 2019 tournament and the pandemic took away 2020, the senior is eager for another, final shot to go deep into the bracket.

Hall-Dale’s Naomi Lynch is the top seed in the upcoming state singles tournament. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“For the tournament, I definitely want to raise my level of play,” said Lynch, who will draw either Portland’s Jenna Lederer or Thornton Academy’s Agata Sloniewska. “I think that playing that different, higher level is going to help me. Sometimes you can get stuck in lob games with some of the girls that we play, but it’s definitely going to be a higher level of tennis. So I’m really excited to see how I can improve my game.”

Unseeded local girls include Gardiner’s Lindsey Bell, MCI’s Sarah Trost, Winthrop’s Hannah Duley and Maranacook’s Paige Rice.

It’s the first singles tournament for Rice, who played doubles for Maranacook as a sophomore two seasons ago and will open Friday against Mount Desert Island’s Leila Weir.

“Going into this weekend, I just want to go and have a good time for my senior year and not think too much about it,” Rice said. “(I want to) mainly just play my own game. A lot of the times in the past, I can just get in my own head playing tennis, and that forces me to make more errors.”

On the boys side, the highest seeded local player is Skowhegan’s Dawson Turcotte, who has lost one set this season and as the fifth seed will face either Hampden’s Oliver Bois or Dirigo’s Hayden Adams.

“Going into the season, I really wanted to win the whole tournament. That was my goal and still is my goal,” Turcotte said. “(The key is) just staying calm in the pressure situations. It’s a tournament and everyone’s really tense, so I think staying calm will give me the edge.”

Mt. Blue will have three players in the Round of 52, with Mike Ferrari, Ayden Beisaw and Kaden Allen making the field. Ferrari and Beisaw have been the the Cougars’ top two singles players, while Allen, who upset Dirigo’s Jacob Chow, has played doubles.

“We almost got all five through,” coach Zac Conlogue said. “We’re constantly putting our team under pressure, and that’s what’s helping them with these big situations. … We’re probably not going to have someone who goes on a huge run in the singles tournament, but I think our depth is really what’s made this program special.”

Winthrop will have two boys in the field, with Noah Grube and Josh Deanda-Whaley making it to the weekend.

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