Jun. 9—LEWISTON — The Waynflete boys tennis team is heading back to the Class C state championship.
On Wednesday, the top-seeded Flyers (13-1) won their 15th regional title since 2005 by defeating second-seeded Winthrop/Maranacook 5-0 for the Class C South crown. Waynflete, the 12-time defending Class C state champions, will return to Coach Anita Murphy Tennis Courts in Lewiston to take on George Stevens Academy on Saturday for the state championship at 12:30 p.m.
"I think they played well in pretty difficult conditions in this heat," Waynflete coach Jeff Madore said. "We had good competition; those guys are good athletes."
It was a rematch of the 2019 Class C South regional final, which Waynflete also won 5-0.
Winthrop/Maranacook (12-1) coach Kelsey Ouellette used the regional final from two years ago to prepare for the rematch.
"We definitively could prepare a little bit better," Ouellette said. "Two years ago, we did not know what we would be seeing, we just knew the competition was going to be higher. We tried to prepare as best we could for it."
The loss to Waynflete doesn't take away the season the Ramblers had.
"First of all, I am super proud of these guys, making it (to the regional final)," Ouellette said. "We had an awesome season, undefeated (until today) and won the (Mountain Valley Conference) championship and make it back to regionals. They are the (toughest) competition we have seen all year."
The closest match of the day involved the No. 2 singles between the Flyers' Connor Feeney and Noah Grube of Winthrop/Maranacook.
Feeney took the first three games in the first set before Grube won the next two games.
"My serve was better than it usually is," Feeney said. "My serve was really nice and hitting him side-to-side, drawing it out so eventually he will make a mistake."
Feeney took the next two games to go ahead 5-2 but Grube battled back once again, taking the next four games to take a 6-5 lead.
Feeney was being aggressive with the lead, which Grube took advantage of.
"I have a bad habit of starting out slow and I was warming up," Grube said. "I was trying to hit (the ball) and if the shots fell in it was good. My shots started to fall in a little more towards the end (of the first set)."
Up 6-5 and everything going his favor, Grube's body turned on him when he fell ill and had to take a medical timeout.
Grube wasn't feeling well in the morning and tried to keep his body rested and cool prior to the match.
"When I got here, I wasn't feeling well and just sat in the shade before the match," Grube said. "I think when we got in the longer points and deuces, I started to feel a little queasy and obviously right before (I got sick), it got pretty bad."
After Grube's medical timeout, Feeney forced a tiebreaker. Feeney won the set 7-6 (7-4).
It wasn't the first time this season Feeney faced an opponent that had to use a medical timeout.
"I took (the medical timeout) as keep what I am doing," Feeney said. "If I keep what I am doing, if I keep hitting it side-to-side, he won't continue much longer."
That's just what happened when Feeney took the opening game of set two and by that point Waynflete had clinched with three matches on the board and Grube decided to retire.
With everything that went down, Grube was glad he played.
"Coming today, we knew Waynflete had a (good) chance beating us, I figured this may be my last match on the court," Grube said. "I don't want to be a hothead and get all angry. I just figured I would go out there and have fun and see what I could do."
Henry Kerr, the Flyers' No. 3 singles player, got the first win for Waynflete, defeating Wyatt Folsom 6-1, 6-0.
"I really tried to focus in and stay on the ball," Kerr said. "It worked out, I hit some good shots."
The next two points on the board for Waynflete came from both doubles teams. The No. 1 doubles team of Matt Adey and Henry Hart defeated Adam Hardy and Jake Smith 6-1, 6-2. John Moon-Black and Henry Moore defeated Robby Feeney and Sam Fuller 6-0 in straight sets.
The Flyers carry depth in doubles.
"The No. 1 (team) plays routinely and second doubles we kind of rotate around," Madore said. "...I think (Moon-Black and Moore) communicate well together, they are both good ball-strikers and communicate well, position well on the court."
In first singles, it was a rematch from 2019 with Ben Adey of Waynflete taking on Josh Deanda-Whaley. When both players got on the court, the overall team match had been wrapped up. Adey took the match 6-0, 6-1, which was the same score in 2019.
Adey said the final score didn't reflect the match.
"He gave me some trouble, I had some serving difficulties and he played some good points," Adey said. "He won a good amount of points too. The score to the match doesn't tell the whole story."
Deanda-Whaley felt loose heading into the match and was ready to take on Adey, who reached the semifinals in the state singles tournament.
"It's always nice to play people that are better than you," Deanda-Whaley said. "In that situation, you get better."