First came the gratitude, and it never wore off. High school tennis players who missed out on a season when the 2020 schedule was canceled in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were eager to get back on the courts, and eager to get back to normal and vie for championships.

“Tennis is my favorite sport. Even if we didn’t have a season, I was going to get girls together just to hit it around,” said Hall-Dale  No. 1 singles player Naomi Lynch.

Unlike high school sports in fall and winter in Maine, which played shorter schedules against regional competition with no statewide playoffs, spring sports was a step back to normal, with state team championships and the traditional statewide singles tournament in tennis.

“Everybody was really anxious to get back,” Hall-Dale girls tennis coach Guy Cousins said. “There was just a lot of gratitude that we had a season. Everyone was so positive. It was a season we didn’t know we’d have.”

Cousins’ Bulldogs played the regular season in masks, following social distance and disinfection protocols.

“We played with masks on almost all season. We didn’t take them off until we got to the playoffs. We were doing everything we could. We saw other teams shut down (due to Covid-19) and we weren’t.”

Lynch and Savannah Millay led an inexperienced Hall-Dale team to its first state title with a win over Orono in the state championship match. In Class B, the Waterville girls capped an undefeated season with a win over Cape Elizabeth in the state championship. Despite missing the 2020 season, the Purple Panthers were able to build off success enjoyed in 2019.

“In 2019, we reached the regional final. That gave us a glimpse of that success,” Inga Zimba, Waterville’s first singles player, said. “Our team was excited to see hoe we’d do.”

The Waterville boys tennis team reached the state championship for the first time since 1998, when the Panthers won the Class A state title. Waterville fell in a close match to Yarmouth after defeating John Bapst, 3-2, in the Class B North regional championship match.

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

In Class C South, the Winthrop boys reached the Class C South finals before falling to juggernaut Waynflete, which went on to win its 13th consecutive state championship.

The 2021 season also was a season for individual achievement, with a handful of central Maine players enjoying success in the state singles tournament. Lynch advanced to the quarterfinals of the girls tournament. Zimba reached the round of 16. Sarah Trost of Maine Central Institute and Lindsey Bell of Gardiner each advanced to the second round.

In the boys tournament, Charlie Haberstock of Waterville and Dawson Turcotte of Skowhegan each reached the quarterfinals. Owen Evans of Waterville advanced to the second round.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

 

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