Waterville No. 1 singles player Inga Zimba competes during action against Mt. Blue at the North Street tennis courts Tuesday in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

The strategy seems simple, but it’s true.

For area tennis teams entering the team tennis state tournament this week, depth is the name of the game.

“I think we have pretty good depth,” Waterville boys tennis coach Jason Tardif said. “Our doubles team has done the job pretty well. I think we have good chemistry, both in our first doubles and our second doubles. That’s what really is going to be the key for us, in going forward, we’re going to have to take care of business in our doubles (matches). I know our singles are pretty strong, and we’re probably going to need at least one or two wins in doubles during playoffs as (the rounds) get tougher, take a little pressure off of the singles guys.”

The Waterville boys are one of four area teams entering its respective tournament with an undefeated record, joining the Waterville girls (Class B North), Hall-Dale girls (C South) and Winthrop/Maranacook boys (C South). Three of the four squads enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, while the Ramblers — despite winning the Mountain Valley Conference championship — enter their bracket as the No. 2 seed behind Waynflete, a Class C school that plays a Class B schedule.

An added element this season is tennis, like all spring sports in Maine, will have an open tournament.

The Purple Panthers had three players — Charlie Haberstock, Owen Evans and Josiah Bloom — compete in the state singles tournament. Waterville has been rolling of late, winning the final six matches of its regular season by a score of 5-0. The only team that has come close to beating the Purple Panthers  is No. 4 Medomak Valley, a match Waterville won by a 3-2 score on May 6.


“We’ll probably see Medomak in that next round,” Tardif said. “So that’ll be a tough one, because we only beat them 3-2, and it was a pretty close match. But the kids are all excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

The Purple Panthers have a bye to start the playoffs, waiting in the quarterfinals for the winner of of No. 9 Belfast vs. No. 8 Foxcroft. Also playing in the opening round of the Class B North boys tournament is No. 12 Erskine (5-7) vs. No. 5 Ellsworth (9-3) and No. 14 Maine Central Institute (4-8) traveling to No. 3 Old Town (8-4).

Much like the boys team, the Waterville girls enter the B North playoffs as the No. 1 seed and sent two singles players — Inga Zimba and Keira Gilman — to the state singles tournament. The Purple Panthers are enjoying their first undefeated regular season since 2016, when head coach Devin LaChapelle took over the team. LaChapelle credited his team’s depth and work in the offseason as reasons for Waterville’s success.

“We’re not just winning at specific positions every time,” LaChapelle said. “We’re not top heavy or bottom heavy. We’ve got players at all positions that can win matches. That’s really helpful when you come up against one of these strong teams.”

Hall-Dale second doubles player Katie Allen hits a return shot during the Mountain Valley Conference championship Thursday against Spruce Mountain in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

LaChapelle said he expects strong tournament runs from No. 3 Caribou (11-0), a team the Purple Panthers have history with, and No. 10 MCI (5-6), a team Waterville has seen twice, including a close 3-2 win on May 20.

“Caribou is always really tough,” LaChapelle said. “We played them in the semifinal in 2019, they were undefeated that year. We traveled up to Caribou and narrowly won 3-2. They’re always strong… Another team that I think is underseeded is MCI. They were missing a couple of key players early in the season and took some losses, but they’re very strong.”


No. 8 Erskine (8-2) will also be in the mix, and would face Waterville in the quarterfinals if it can win in the opening round. The Eagles almost topped Maranacook in a match, falling 3-2 to the Black Bears on May 6. Maranacook (11-0) is the No. 2 seed in the Class C South playoffs. Rounding out the Class B teams is Gardiner (4-8), which will enter the B South playoffs as the No. 11 seed and will meet No. 6 York (5-4) in the opening round.

It may not be surprising that Winthrop/Maranacook (12-0) is back in the C South boys running, as the Ramblers reached the regional final two years ago before falling to Waynflete. But head coach Kelsey Ouellette said new talent on the roster has helped with the team’s success this season, adding some help for top singles players Noah Grube and Josh Deanda-Whaley.

“I definitely saw in the preseason a lot of potential in new players who hadn’t been on varsity two years ago,” Ouellette said. “But I felt pretty strongly that we could go pretty far and that we could have a pretty strong season… It’s been a good season, it’s been a really good group of players. Like I said, I saw the potential for this happening, but it kind of just happened all of a sudden, ‘Oh wow, we’re 7-0.’ Then we were 10-0, and then we won MVCs. So it happened kind of quickly, but not necessarily a surprise.”

Winthrop/Maranacook will face No. 7 Carrabec (2-8) in the quarterfinal round. No. 3 Madison (8-2) hosts No. 6 Lisbon (3-6) in the quarterfinals. All C South teams will have a difficult time unseating Waynflete (10-1), which has won the last 12 regional finals and Class C titles in a row.

Hall-Dale (11-0) is the favorite in the C South girls, having captured the MVC title over Spruce Mountain by a score of 4-1 last week. The Bulldogs are led by top singles player Naomi Lynch, who reached the quarterfinals of the state singles tournament and is a perfect 11-0 in singles matches this season. Hall-Dale will host No. 8 Madison (0-8-1) in the quarterfinals. Maranacook will host No. 7 St. Dominic (2-9), while No. 5 Winthrop (5-5) hits the road to play No. 4 Dirigo (5-5).

Mt. Blue is the top seeded area team in the Class A North boys tournament. The Cougars (10-2) enter as the No. 4 seed and have a bye in the first round, waiting for the winner of No. 5 Mt. Ararat (8-4) vs. No. 12 Cony (3-9). No. 6 Skowhegan (7-5) will host No. 11 Bangor (1-11) in the first round, while No. 9 Messalonskee (3-9) will play No. 8 Brewer.

Skowhegan (11-1) will enter the A North girls playoffs as the No. 2 seed, with a bye into the quarterfinal round. No. 5 Mt. Blue (8-4) hosts No. 12 Mt. Ararat (1-11) in the opening round, while No. 7 Messalonskee (3-8) hosts No. 10 Bangor (1-11) and No. 13 Cony (0-11) travels to No. 4 Lewiston (10-2).

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