Windjammers avenge earlier loss, net regional crown over MarinersState Class B title game time, venue changed
Waterville — While tennis is, in fact, a team sport, individuals often can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Or, in the case of the Eastern Class B high school boys championship match between No. 2 Oceanside and No. 4 Camden Hills on Wednesday afternoon, June 11, moving onto the state competition or having a highly-successful season come to an end.
The Mariners, who also won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship, went unbeaten in the regular season, including a 3-2 win over Camden Hills on May 15 in Rockland.
Notably absent from that regular-season match was Windjammer Austin Pohlman, who was at an All-State chorus concert.
Not only did Pohlman participate in Wednesday's regional championship, the co-captain, and the team's first singles player, led the Windjammers to a 3-2 win and the regional crown in a match on the Klein Pavilion Courts at Colby College.
The match had been postponed from Tuesday due to predicted rain.
It was the second straight win over a previously unbeaten, higher-ranked opponent for the Windjammers, who knocked off top-seeded Ellsworth in the semifinal round.
“I'm thrilled,” said Camden Hills coach Noah Capetta. “The guys have worked really hard all season. They definitely earned their way to an Eastern Maine championship and a berth in the state final. All the guys are psyched.”
Due to potential inclement weather, Camden Hills (13-2) will play for the state Class B championship on Saturday, June 14 at 6 p.m. at the Portland Racket and Fitness Center.
The Windjammers will face Cape Elizabeth, 13-2 and No. 1 in Western Class B, which beat Yarmouth, 11-4 and third in the region, 5-0 in the Western Class B final.
The state final originally was slated to be played at Bates College in Lewiston, but the match was moved indoors due to rain in Saturday's forecast.
It is the Windjammer boys tennis program's first regional championship since 2010. The Windjammers lost the state Class B title 5-0 to the Capers that year.
Oceanside's season ended at 14-1.
The individual regional championship results, with Camden Hills players listed first, were: In singles, Pohlman beat Cameron Butler, 6-2, 7-5; Matt Morse lost to Nate Philbrook, 7-6(4), 3-6, 2-6; and Luke Burstein lost to Eli Thorbjornson, 2-6, 6-1, 3-6.
In doubles, Josiah Simko and Alex Forcillo beat Johannes Korhoren and Steven Goodridge, 6-2, 7-6(3); and James Annis and Colby Arau beat Kyle Waters and Logan Finnegan, 6-1, 6-2.
“We knew this was going to be tough coming in,” said Oceanside coach Dan Wiley. “We got ready for it and you get on the court and you do what you've got to do, and it didn't fall our way that time and that's the best I can ask for. We gave it our all. I don't think we'll have any regrets.”
Interestingly, both Wiley and Capetta are first-year coaches.
Annis and Arau gave Camden Hills the early 1-0 edge after they finished off Waters and Finnegan in straight sets at second doubles, while the focus then shifted to the first singles match between Pohlman and Butler.
Butler made a valiant effort to rally in the second set, but Pohlman prevailed to put the Windjammers ahead 2-0 in the match.
“He played a pivotal role,” said Capetta of Pohlman. “He was 2-0 against Cameron last year and he had a lot of confidence going into this match and believing he could beat Cameron. And that just fortified the rest of our singles ladder as well. We were confident in doubles and we knew we'd just have to get one singles win and Austin came through for us.”
“I knew that I had a strong chance against Cameron,” said Pohlman. “I was sad to miss that [regular-season] match. I love playing against Cameron. We have good camaraderie [and] we play all winter. I was ready to come into this match and play against him and show what I had.”
Pohlman said his goal was to try and force Butler to his backhand and “forcing him to make the errors.”
“In the second set he picked it up and started playing more consistently,” said Pohlman. “But I just stuck through it and tried to be more consistent than him.”
Simko's and Forcillo's first doubles win over Korhoren and Goodridge sealed the regional crown for Camden Hills, but it was not easy as the Mariners led 6-5 in the second set before the Windjammers rallied to force the tiebreaker.
Forcillo said the team “just knew what we needed to do.” Simko agreed.
“It's one we've been preparing for all year and so it's great that we can finally get out here and take the opportunity when it comes,” said Simko. “I like that we were able to give them their first and last loss of the season, but also that we played a great match all-around. I'm really proud of all the guys.”
Shortley after, Thorbjornson won his third set over Burstein to put Oceanside on the board.
Tournament officials gave Philbrook and Morse, the last match going at second singles, the option of retiring after they split the first two sets with the overall outcome of the match no longer in question. But the two opted to play it out and Philbrook won the final set of the day 6-2.
Wiley said he was impressed by his team's play, particularly at first doubles.
“I think that was the one point all year we struggled with,” said Wiley. “And to see them hold a game against Camden's first doubles was impressive. I'm proud of all these guys. They've done really well this year. We're a young team [and] we're mostly juniors. So hopefully this will motivate them to work a little in the offseason and come back roaring for next spring.”
Now the Windjammers set their sights on Saturday, where they will play either the Capers or the Clippers.
Capetta said he felt confident lining up against talented, powerful Cape Elizabeth for Class B's richest prize.
“We played Cape Elizabeth in the preseason and lost 3-2,” said Capetta. “So we feel really confident going into that match. They have a lot of great players, but I think we're playing our best right now and if we can just continue this momentum into the state final I think we've got a reasonable chance to pull it off.”
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.
Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.
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