Weekend warriors: Oceanside bursts into regional tennis championshipNo. 2 Mariners to face rival No. 4 Camden Hills for all the marbles
Rockland — The Oceanside boys tennis team has accomplished so much this season — unbeaten record and league championship, for example — but the Mariners' most impressive achievement might be ahead of them.
That is because the Mariners won back-to-back Eastern Class B playoff matches on consecutive days over the weekend under much different conditions to earn a spot in the coveted regional championship.
And, as fate would have it, Oceanside will face Midcoast-rival Camden Hills in the championship now on Wednesday, June 11 at 4 p.m. at Colby College in Waterville, after being switched from June 10 due to predicted rain.
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 No. 2 Mariners (14-0) had to defeat two opponents during a 24-hour span at different venues to earn a regional final spot.
Oceanside, which also captured the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title (by virtue of collecting more regular-season Heal Points then all other league teams), downed No. 10 Waterville (7-7) 3-2 Friday, June 6 in a quarterfinal playoff match on the indoor courts at the Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta. That match had been postponed from June 4 due to inclement weather.
The Mariners followed that with a 4-1 win over No. 6 Erskine Academy of South China (10-4) on Saturday, June 7 in a semifinal playoff match on the Oceanside East campus courts.
No. 4 Camden Hills (12-2) upended No. 1 Ellsworth (13-1) 3-2 in Saturday's semifinal match after the Windjammers beat No. 5 John Bapst of Bangor (9-5) 4-1 in the quarterfinals to earn a finals berth.
"I am very pleased with the way the guys have been playing," said Mariner coach Dan Wiley. "I am very happy with the results of the last week, especially since we played against very skilled and well-coached opponents. I am most impressed with the way our team has molded together as one unit.
"One of my goals this year was to take the individual mindset that characteristically defines tennis and turn it into a team mindset, and I think we have reached that goal. The team is very close and I believe that has had a tremendous effect on our performance."
Wiley said the upcoming regional championship match against Camden Hills will be exciting. "Both teams have had very tough playoff schedules, so both teams are definitely prepped for a battle. It will be fun to watch."
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).
The following are results for Oceanside two weekend matches:
Oceanside 4, Erskine Academy 1
At Rockland June 7, the individual results, with Mariner players listed first, were: In singles, Cameron Butler beat Brandon Smith, 6-1, 6-2; Nate Philbrook beat Dominic Pezo, 6-1, 6-0; and Eli Thorbjornson beat Richard Preston 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
In doubles, Johannes Korhonen and Jack Crockett lost to Cameron Grass and Jon Ballantyne, 4-6, 1-6; and Kyle Waters and Logan Finnegan defeated Kyle Zambroski and Vince Wang, 6-2, 6-3.
Philbrook got the Mariners off to a positive start with the first individual victory for the hosts Saturday afternoon. And that essentially set the tone.
The junior said it was not difficult for the Mariners to adjust to a short turnaround in the weekend playoff matches and said going from indoors and no weather elements one day to back outdoors and the sun and wind the next was not as tough as it might seem.
"It was a little warm, but the ground strokes were feeling pretty good and my serve was on today," he said.
He said the short turnaround was simply like daily practice, only with more meaning, of course. "It is nothing different than we have been doing all season," he said. "Everything this season has been leading up to these matches."
Philbrook said indoors there is no sun in a player's eyes or the wind to factor in, so there is "a little bit of a transition [when one goes back outdoors]. We have to adapt."
Philbrook said tennis is tennis, but the playoffs, when the team that loses goes home and winner advances, can make for nerves. "I have had a pit in my stomach the last two days," he said. "I know my team relies on me. And I rely on all my teammates. So I just want to perform for them."
He said all the student-athletes on the team interact well and support one another, plus the squads has talent, thus the reason for the unbeaten, league championship season, thus far.
Oceanside 3, Waterville 2
At Damariscotta June 6, the individual results, with Mariner players listed first, were: In singles, Butler lost to Zach Disch, 4-6, 7-6, 6-10 (tiebreaker); Philbrook beat Adrias Rivas, 6-2, 6-0; and Thorbjornson beat John Kaminski 7-5, 5-7, 6-1
In doubles, Korhonen and Crockett lost to Joe Oliver and Bridger Holly, 3-6, 6-0, 4-6; and Waters and Finnegan beat Galen Lichterfield and Patrick Keane, 7-5, 6-4.
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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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