SKOWHEGAN — A tightly contested match Thursday ended in an upset in the Class A North boys tennis playoffs.

Mt. Ararat claimed a 3-2 win over Skowhegan in the quarterfinals at Skowhegan’s Memorial Field Complex. The Eagles got wins in both doubles contests and won a tense battle at No. 2 singles to knock off the River Hawks and advance to the semifinals.

“We came in here and played great today,” said Mt. Ararat head coach Jack Rioux. “We had two great wins in doubles, and then we got a great effort from Alex [Liva] at No. 2. That was a great battle from both teams, and it got nerve-wracking at the end.”

Sixth-ranked Mt. Ararat (7-6) opened the match with a win at first doubles as the duo of Noah Tusco and Tucker Wnek defeated No. 3 Skowhegan’s Asa Stroman and Noah McConnell 6-2, 6-4. The Eagles’ Charles Scribner then gave the River Hawks’ Dom Clifford a run for his money, but the Skowhegan sophomore prevailed in a 6-3, 6-4 battle to tie the match.

Moments after Clifford’s win, Mt. Ararat’s Noah Cook and Aaron Paul claimed a 7-5, 6-4 win in second doubles. That meant the Eagles needed to top Skowhegan (9-4) in one of the remaining doubles matches, a task that wouldn’t be easy with the River Hawks having a pair of standouts at first singles (Unai Moldonado) and second singles (Drake Turcotte).

Moldonado, a state singles quarterfinalist, doused Mt. Ararat’s hopes of a win at first singles quickly with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Landon Weaver. That meant a spot in the semifinals would come down to the River Hawks’ Turcotte and the Eagles’ Liva, who were locked in a tight battle on the middle court.


Skowhegan third singles player Dom Clifford hits a shot during a Class North quarterfinal match Thursday in Skowhegan. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

After Liva took the first set 6-4, the two players were locked at 4-4 in the second for seemingly ages as neither player could seal it at break point. Yet Liva was finally able to do so, and the Mt. Ararat senior followed it with another game win to clinch the match victory.

“Unlike other sports, when you coach tennis, you can’t coach during the match, so I was just packing back and forth,” said Rioux, who is also Mt. Ararat’s head boys soccer coach. “You could see my guys getting nervous, too; they were up against the fence and into every point. It was excellent, and that was some great tennis.”

Although Skowhegan entered the match with a better record than Mt. Ararat, there was little comparison to be made between two teams that played vastly different regular season schedules. The only team on both the River Hawks’ and Eagles’ schedules was Mt. Blue, which both teams defeated by the same score of 4-1.

“We only had one common opponent with Skowhegan — Mt. Blue — so we didn’t really know a lot about them coming in,” Rioux said. “It was those things where we knew we’d just have to hit our shots, and it worked, and we pulled it out.”

Despite the loss, Skowhegan still posted its best season since 1994. The River Hawks, who were a Class A North bottomfeeder as recently as a few years ago — the team was 0-35-1 from 2017-19 — improved on last year’s 7-6 finish with an even better campaign. 

“I think what’s happened here is that the community here has started to come back behind tennis,” said Skowhegan head coach Paul Daigle. “Tennis used to be a forgotten sport here, but we’re not a forgotten sport anymore. … Today, everybody on those teams who lost in the past would be very proud of these players.”

Mt. Ararat will play either No. 2 Hampden Academy or No. 7 Bangor in the regional semifinals. The Broncos (9-3) and Rams (3-9) had also been scheduled to play Thursday afternoon in Hampden.

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