LEWISTON —Lidia Gomez entered the Maine Principals’ Association state singles tournament as the top-ranked player.

The Maine Central Institute senior has lived up to her billing on Saturday at Bates College.

Gomez reached the semifinals by defeating Clarice Bell of Orono, 6-1, 6-2, in the Round of 16 before knocking off Sadie Yentsch of Kennebunk, 6-0, 6-1, in the quarterfinals.

“(Gomez) had two awesome matches, different styles from her opponents, and I feel she responded to each of them with cool and playing exactly her game where she wants it and finding answers,” MCI coach John Buys said.

Also Saturday, it was a tough day for Mt. Blue’s Bernard Tovar, who was forced to retire in the quarterfinals because of leg cramps.

Tovar was rallying in a second set with Falmouth’s Sam Yoon when leg cramps ended his run. Tovar led 5-4 when he had to retire from the match.


“It was a great match; it was a close first set, 6-2 (in favor of Yoon),” Mt. Blue coach Zac Conlogue said. “Bernardo looked down for a little bit, but he battled back — he went down 4-2 (in the second set) — but brought it back to 5-4.”

Added Yoon, who defeated Westy Granholm of Mount Desert Island in the Round of 16, winning 6-2, 6-0.: “It’s unlucky; I wish we could have finished that match, it was a great match.”

Yoon will take on the top seed, George Cutone of Kennebunk, who defeated Quinn Federle of Yarmouth in the round of 16, 6-0, 6-1, and then Unai Maldonado of Skowhegan in the quarterfinals, 6-0 in straight sets.

Tovar, the No. 5 seed, had to adjust to the fourth-seeded Yoon.

Maine Central Institute’s Lidia Gomez maintains her focus during a Round of 16 match against Orono’s Clarice Bell at the MPA state singles championships Saturday at Bates College in Lewiston. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“(Tovar) hasn’t played a lot of people at this level,” Conlogue said. “Sam is obviously one of the top players in the state of Maine; he hits it with a lot of pace. (Tovar) wasn’t moving his feet because he wasn’t used to the pace. Once he settled in, he started moving more and he started playing his angles and started to move Sam around. That’s when he started having success.”

No other Mt. Blue boys player had ever reached the quarterfinals. Tovar defeated Koa Bennett of Ellsworth, 6-2 in straight sets, in the round of 16 earlier Saturday.

On the girls side, MCI coach Buys said Vell and Yentsch each had some variety in their game in which Gomez used groundstrokes to attack.

Buys added that he’s kept his expectations in check for Gomez.

“I knew she could (make it to the semifinals); I was confident in it,” Buys said. “Again, there’s so many variables you don’t want to be overconfident.”

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