Hall-Dale’s No. 2 singles player, Savannah Millay, digs out a drop shot during Wednesday’s match against Waynflete’s Lucy Hart in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The Hall-Dale girls tennis team had been to the regional final in Class C before. The Bulldogs had never made it through.

Savannah Millay made sure that changed Wednesday afternoon.

Millay earned a deciding three-set victory at second singles, and the Bulldogs reached their first Class C state championship match with a 3-2 victory over Waynflete at Lewiston High School.

Hall-Dale, which had last been this far when it reached the C West final in 2012, improved to 13-0. Waynflete finished at 8-7.

“All of our hard work has paid off,” said Millay, who won her match 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-2. “We only have nine girls on the team, and I think today really showed how much effort and dedication and passion we really put into this sport.”

Hall-Dale got wins from Millay, Allie Young (6-3, 6-2) at third singles and the team of Moira O’Connor and Jenna Lee (6-2, 6-4) at second doubles. Waynflete got wins from Morgan Warner (6-0, 6-0) at first singles and Selina He and Vivian Rallus (6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3)) at first doubles.

“It’s just tremendous,” Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins said. “We spend all year really talking about putting the effort in, putting the focus in and letting the outcome take care of itself. This epitomizes it to the ‘n’th degree.”

Hall-Dale’s No. 1 singles player, Naomi Lynch, sets up for a forehand during Wednesday’s team tennis playoff match against Waynflete’s Morgan Warner in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

At one point, however, it looked shaky. Waynflete was up 1-0 in sets in second singles and first doubles, and had Warner, the runner-up in the state’s individual tournament, still to play.

Without a comeback somewhere, the Bulldogs were in trouble. Cousins said panic never set in.

“Nobody let their heads down,” he said. “Even when people were down a set, they came back, focused and worked hard.”

The turning point came in Millay’s match. She led 4-3 in the first set but couldn’t close it out as Waynflete freshman Lucy Hart forced, and then won, a one-sided tiebreaker.

Millay knew her team needed her match, but she wasn’t about to let frustration or nerves take over.

“I put it behind me and (said) ‘I need to focus on the next shot,'” she said. “I think I was doing that the entire match. I kind of was talking to myself, which is kind of silly, but it really helps.”

Millay never trailed in the second set, and won the first four games of the third. Content to play a patient rallying game, Millay proved tough for Hart to outlast in long points.

“That’s the biggest strength in her game,” Cousins said. “Her mental toughness, and the ability to be able to handle herself emotionally.”

Hall-Dale held a 2-1 advantage overall and leads in first doubles and second singles, but it all came down to singles when He and Rallus rallied from a 6-5 hole in the third set. Millay knew the situation but didn’t waver, dropping the next two games but winning the two after that to clinch the victory.

“I didn’t let (the situation) affect me,” she said. “I took that pressure into power, to make me move quicker on the ball.”

Hall-Dale’s No. 3 singles player, Allie Young, digs out a drop shot during Wednesday’s match against Waynflete’s Courtney Ford in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The first victory of the day came from O’Connor and Lee at second doubles, who were brand-new to tennis at the start of the season.

“Both of us are very athletic, and that helped of course with starting a new sport,” O’Connor said. “We just have each other’s backs. We communicate with each other on the court, and things go well. We pick each other up when we’re down.”

Lee said she and her partner knew a Hall-Dale victory likely rested on their result.

“I did feel pressure,” she said. “But I knew if we got the first set, we could get the second one. I knew that if we got this win, it would help the whole team.”

Hall-Dale’s chances got a further boost when Young prevailed in straight sets at third singles.

“I just had to buckle down,” Young said. “I tried to move her around as best as I could. She didn’t really like short balls, so that was definitely in the mix. She had a pretty good forehand, so I tried to hit it to her backhand most of the time.”

Waynflete’s first win came from the Providence College-bound Warner, who had a formidable opponent in Naomi Lynch, a quarterfinalist at the individual tournament. Warner’s powerful serves and pinpoint groundstrokes, however, were overwhelming.

“No matter who it is, I try to stay focused and play my game,” Warner said. “My big weapon is my spin, I think that definitely throws people off. I always try to hit with a lot of spin, and make as little errors as possible.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.