LEWISTON — Falmouth senior Xander Barber and Brunswick junior Coco Meserve took vastly different paths before both arrived at the same destination.

Each won Maine Principals’ Association state singles title Monday afternoon at the Wallach Tennis Complex on the campus of Bates College.

Barber, a Division I college prospect currently ranked seventh in the country, bulldozed his way through the three-day, 52-player tournament with explosive serves, crisp ground strokes and deft volleys. He faced second-seeded Sam Yoon, his sophomore teammate, in a jovial but fiercely contested final that ended in less than an hour.

Barber, who didn’t drop a game in his morning semifinal, capped a 6-1, 6-0 championship victory with a blistering backhand return down the line after Yoon had survived three previous match points.

“I don’t think however I played, I would have beaten him,” Yoon said. “He’s such a good player.”

Meserve, seeded second, required a much different route to her title. She outlasted top seed Mya Vincent, a senior from Edward Little in Auburn, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in a contentious affair that included repeated questioning of line calls, coaches on court as monitors for the final 12 games and loopy, lengthy rallies that contributed to a tense 2-hour, 36-minute affair.


Meserve won the final eight points of the match, which had been tied at 4 games each in the third. Emotions ran high, and post-match drama included a verbal confrontation between spectators about the propriety of commenting on a competitor’s line calls.

Vincent herself addressed the crowd late in the third set, immediately silencing supporters of Meserve who had been particularly vocal.

“They were not happy with my line calls,” Vincent said. “That never feels good.”

Meserve said she and Vincent have been competing against each other for years, attending the same summer camps and playing at the same club. Earlier this month, Vincent had won their only regular-season meeting, decided on a 12-10 tiebreaker after split sets.

It was Meserve who requested the two coaches, Mary Kunhardt of Brunswick and Kirk Egge of Edward Little, to oversee line calls after falling behind 5-2 in the second set.

“Mentally, I felt like I just needed the coaches there,” said Meserve, who lost in the finals a year ago to Lydia Gomez of Maine Central Institute. “It may not have been necessary. It may have been necessary. But it’s state champs, and I don’t want to regret not asking for someone and thinking back on that and letting it get inside my head.”


Questioning continued – “Really? You sure? Are you positive?” – from both players and neither coach overruled any player calls.

“Oh, I was angry, but I tried to play through it,” Vincent said. “I mean, you couldn’t have asked for a better final. I’m not happy with the outcome, but it was a great match.”

Forays to net were infrequent and tentative. Both players preferred to stay well behind the baseline and keep the ball in play, rather than risk exposure to passing shots.

“She’s an insane backboard and can get every ball back,” Meserve said of Vincent. “She doesn’t have a weak backhand or weak forehand. They’re both the same level of strength, and she knew how to move me around. That’s why we were taking so many breaks in the thing.”

Indeed, activity between points often consisted of Vincent toweling sweat from her hands and arms while Meserve leaned against the opposite fence in shade, or drummed her fingers against her racket strings while talking to herself.

In morning semifinals, Vincent defeated Falmouth freshman Sofia Kirtchev, the fifth seed, 6-3, 6-3 and Meserve overcame an early deficit to beat No. 6 Haylie Peacock, a Gardiner junior, 6-4, 6-4.


The boys’ semifinals included a similarly competitive match in which Yoon held off No. 6 Alberto Cutone, a Kennebunk freshman and brother of two-time singles state champion George Cutone, by a score of 6-4, 6-2.

The elder Cutone, a junior, passed up this year’s singles tournament in order to compete at a national event in Georgia over the weekend, hoping to attract the attention of college recruiters.

Barber, who has committed to play for Dartmouth College in the fall, won his semifinal 6-0, 6-0 against fourth-seeded Khang Duy Vinh Nguyen, Foxcroft Academy sophomore.

Yoon held serve to start the finals with a 1-0 lead, much to the delight of his Falmouth teammates.

“They all wanted Sam to win,” Barber said. “I’m probably the favorite going in, and they wanted Sam to have the big upset. It’s all in good fun, though. I’m just glad they came out. It’s fun having fans there.”

The match provided several entertaining moments. One of the best came when Yoon, bidding to break Barber’s serve, came to net after a deep approach and then attempted a behind-the-back volley after Barber’s response whistled cross court instead of down the line.

“I didn’t expect it to be super competitive,” said Falmouth Coach Bob McCully, “but you got some idea of how well they play because they had some great rallies.”

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