Blue Hill—Sitting at the top is a familiar spot for the George Stevens Academy boys tennis team. With 11 Eastern Maine Championship wins in the past 13 years, this season it’s business as usual as the top-ranked Eagles enter the Class C tournament. With a bye in the prelim game, their first match is a quarterfinal on June 4 against either #8 Schenck or #9 Deer Isle-Stonington, after which they should easily slide into the semifinals on June 6 against either #4 Fort Kent or—barring a major upset in their own prelim match—#5 Orono.
“Our path starting in the semis could be more difficult then in recent years,” Coach Larry Gray wrote in a recent email. “Both Fort Kent and [Mattanawcook Academy in] Lincoln will be threats.”
If the top teams play true to form throughout the tournament, the Eagles are looking at a regional final against either #2 Mattanawcook or #3 Piscataquis, teams they don’t play in the regular season.
The Eagles have won handily against all Class C teams they’ve faced. At 11-1 for the season, the only team the Eagles fell to was the top-ranked Class B team, Ellsworth, last week, a lopsided 4-1 loss that saw the Eagles compete without first singles player Tate Yoder.
The past 13 years have seen 11 Class C Eastern Championships for the Eagles. They won the state title in 2004 against Waynflete, but have since fallen to the South Portland school each time but once when they’ve reached the state championship.
After the Eagles 2014 loss, Gray credited the aggressive tennis program at Waynflete as one reason for its dominance. But anything can happen at tournament time. The Eagles have won nearly every game of every match they’ve played at the Class C level this year, and Waynflete is in second place this year in a tight point-spread among the top three Western division teams.
The girls ended the season ranked second with a 9-3 record, and are on a collision course with undefeated Mattanawcook for the Eastern Class C championship. But first, after a bye in the prelim round, they face either #7 Lee or #10 Fort Kent in the quarterfinals at home on June 4.
“We beat Lee twice (5-0 and 4-1) in the regular season, but all the matches were very close,” said Coach Tim Farrar. “We haven’t played Ft. Kent in a few years but, generally, all of their players are very athletic.” If the Eagles can power through to the semifinals, they face a possible match up with #3 Van Buren at home on June 6, the team they lost the regional title to last year and beat in 2012. A win there means a trip to the regionals, where they won in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. The girls have never won the state championship. In their last two trips to the Maine Class C Championships, they lost to Waynflete, 3-2 and 4-1.
The Eastern championships are June 9 at Colby College, and the state title match will be played on June 13 at Bates College.