As temperatures continue to rise across central Maine, high school tennis teams are hitting the courts in preparation of the spring season.

In girls tennis, Waterville looks to continue its most recent run of success. The Purple Panthers finished 11-5 last season and won the Class B North championship. The season before, in 2021, The Panthers went undefeated and won the Class B title.

Head coach Jon Hart says there’s pieces in place for continued success.

“We’ve got some kids doing some new things, but we’re pretty confident in them,” Hart said. “Pretty much every position this year will be new, because we lost our No. 1 single and our No. 3 single from last year’s team, so we’re moving everybody (around) and shifting… It’s exciting, because the kids have put a lot of time in during the offseason and are coming in to the start of the season way better than you would expect with a lull over the winter. They’re sharp early on, and there’s nowhere to go but up from there. We’re pleased so far, but we’re going to keep pushing them.”

Hart said senior Karin Zimba — who had an excellent season as the No. 2 singles player last season — will take over at the No. 1 singles. Senior Allie Anich, still a relative newcomer to tennis but a standout athlete, will play at No. 2 singles.

“What’s pretty cool is, we’re pretty evenly matched right down the board from (players) one to five or six,” Hart said.


Maine Central Institute had the top girls player last year in Lidia Gómez, who won the state singles title last spring, capping off an undefeated season. The Huskies finished 12-2 and reached the Class C North semifinals.

Now, with Gómez and a strong core of seniors gone, the Huskies are also reshuffling a bit, but head coach John Buys has a healthy roster of more than 20 players.

“We’re a younger team this year; we only have three seniors,” Buys said. “I’m excited to see what Olivia Varney can do. She’s a solid tennis player, she spent last season at No. 2 (singles)… I think she spent (a lot of time) committed to working on the sport over the winter. She and some of the other girls on the team have done that over the winter. I’m excited to see them stepping into new roles. It’s early for me to anticipate what that’s going to look like for them, just because they are playing up (to a new role). People who have been in that doubles position will be moving on to singles.”

Varney, who shattered a program record by scoring 51 goals for the MCI girls soccer team in the fall, moves up to No. 1 singles.

Maranacook fell just short of a Class C title last season and finished 13-2. The Black Bears return No. 1 singles standout Claire Dwyer, who was in the top 32 of the singles tournament last year as a freshman. Also back is Mary Hatt, who will move from third to second singles this spring.

“I’ll be OK, but I’ll be a little bit weaker than I was in the past, because I (graduated) six seniors,” Maranacook head coach Louis Gingras said. “But with having (No. 1) and (No. 3) back, that’s a good start.”


Guy Cousins, who was the longtime girls tennis coach at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale, takes over as the new girls tennis coach at Gardiner this spring. Cousins is happy with what he’s seen from the Tigers so far.

“The attitude I’m really liking as far as their focus and their work ethic,” Cousins said. “I’m very excited. And we’re still new, they’re still getting to know me and I’m still getting to know them.”

The Tigers will be lead by junior Haylie Peacock, who was among the final 16 in the singles tournament last season as a sophomore.

“She’s worked really hard over the winter,” Cousins said. “She is pretty hungry about wanting to go further.”

On the boys side, Skowhegan looks to continue to build off a 9-4 record last season, which included a trip to the Class A North quarterfinals. It was the best season for the River Hawks — which went winless in 36 matches from 2017-2019 — in 28 years.

“We have an experienced group and they are ready to go, in terms of their attitude and wanted to improve as a team,” new head coach Dan Riley said.


Skowhegan returns a solid core of veterans, including sophomore Drake Turcotte, who flourished as a freshman in the No. 3 singles spot and will be counted on to be the No. 1 for the River Hawks this season.

Mt. Blue’s Carson Zundel returns a shot to Caribou’s Abe Bouchard during the first round of the state singles tournament on May 20, 2022 at Bates College in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Mt. Blue reached the Class A North quarterfinals last season before falling to Brunswick. With the exception of losing exchange student Bernardo Tovar — one of the team’s top players — the Cougars return a solid starting lineup.

“We’re pretty similar to last year’s team,” Mt. Blue head coach Zac Conlogue said. “We’re pretty solid in singles. We have two returning doubles guys and we just have some really good athletes. We’ve got 25 guys playing this year, which is great, but we’re young. I’ve only got the one senior and our exchange student. They’re all mostly freshmen and sophomores. But they’re athletic. We have a lot of potential, we just have to get that athleticism into playing tennis.”

Carson Zundel, who was among the final 32 in the singles tournament last year, returns for singles play. Diego Cortes, an exchange student from Mexico, will also be counted on to give a boost in singles competition.

Much like its girls team, the MCI boys tennis team had an impressive season last year, reaching the Class C North semifinals. The Huskies, however, are also a team in transition as they lost their top four players from last season. However, the Huskies have soe depth, with  more than 20 players out this spring.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and the collective attitude is very good,” said Kyle Holmstrom, MCI’s new boys head coach. “I think the kids have enthusiasm based on what they did last year, getting a little taste of that. But they know they’re going to have to work hard and improve their fundamentals if we’re going to have that kind of success again.”

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