Upset city: Camden Hills stuns No. 1 Ellsworth, heads to finalNo. 4 Windjammers to play No. 2 Oceanside in championship now June 11
Ellsworth — The Camden Hills boys tennis team looked adversity in the face Saturday afternoon, June 7 and did not blink. And, because of that, the Windjammers are headed to the Eastern Class B championship match against a familiar opponent.
The No. 4 Windjammers (12-2) surged into the regional final against No. 2 Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston (14-0) with an impressive all-around performance against a talented, No. 1 foe.
Camden Hills hit the road and upended No. 1 Ellsworth (13-1) 3-2 in Saturday's semifinal playoff match. The Windjammers also beat No. 5 John Bapst of Bangor 4-1 in the quarterfinals to earn a finals berth.
Oceanside defeated No. 10 Waterville 3-2 and No. 6 Erskine Academy of South China 4-1 earlier in the playoffs.
The regional championship match was scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 at 4 p.m. at Colby College in Waterville, but has been moved to Wednesday, June 11 due to predicted rain for Tuesday. The teams will meet at the same site at the same time on the new day.
The move is a positive for the Mariners as Oceanside's graduation is the night of June 10.
Oceanside and Camden Hills forged an epic regular-season battle earlier this spring, as the Mariners pulled out a 3-2 victory. So, a rematch for the regional crown should be fun and plenty competitive for Midcoast student-athletes and fans.
The state championship match will be Saturday, June 14 at Bates College in Lewiston. The Western Class B title clash will involve No. 3 Yarmouth (11-3) and No. 1 Cape Elizabeth (12-2).
But first things first. The Windjammers had to defeat talented, host Ellsworth in the semifinals and did that with Saturday's tough 3-2 victory.
"It's definitely exciting for the team to be in the Eastern Maine final," said Windjammer coach Noah Capetta. "Oceanside has had a remarkable year and we have a friendly rivalry. We know exactly what we have to do to beat them, we just need to execute."
On Saturday, in the semifinals, the individual results, with Windjammer players listed first, were: In singles, Austin Pohlman beat Evan Toothaker, 7-5, 6-1; Matt Morse beat Ben Haslam, 6-4, 6-2; and Luke Burstein lost to Alec Toothaker, 3-6, 3-6.
In doubles, Josiah Simko and Alex Forcillo beat Anthony Gardner and Jarred Whitney, 6-2, 6-4; and James Annis and Colby Arau lost to John Fendl and Kyle Lima, 7-5, 6-2.
The first match to finish was second doubles, with Annis and Arau losing for the first time this season. "Ellsworth simply played a more tactically sound game for two sets," said Capetta. "I think when we saw the results against common opponents, we figured we had a distinct advantage at second doubles, but they outplayed us."
First doubles finished shortly after and Simko and Forcillo "continued their success leveling the [overall team] match at 1-1. They just seem to get better and better with each match they play together. They're consistently making good decisions in terms of strategy and shot selection."
The Windjammers fell behind 2-1 when Burstein lost at third singles. "He got down 1-4 in the first set and managed to get one of the breaks back and was gaining momentum, but Alec had a big serve and a big forehand and he used them effectively to dictate play and close out the set 6-3," the coach said. "He was able to keep Luke on his heels for the second set and put the Eagles up 2-1."
With the match and a berth in the regional final on the line, Windjammers Pohlman and Morse took the court at the same time at first and second singles. Toothaker and Haslam "have had a great year and we knew we had to come up with something special to pull off the win," Capetta said.
And that is the scenario that played out.
"Matt struggled early on in the season, but I knew he just needed to get some match experience and start to trust himself a little," the coach said. "He played outstandingly, and came through big for us with a straight sets win over an unbeaten player."
Thus, with the match knotted 2-2, it came down to who would win at first singles.
"Austin raised his level of play after going down an early break against Evan," Capetta said. "He broke back and managed to squeak out the first set 7-5. He rode his momentum through the second set and didn't allow Evan to find his rhythm again, counter-punching and picking good times to go on the offensive."
And that effort paved the way to a Windjammer upset victory and berth in the regional championship match against Midcoast-rival Oceanside.
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.
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