Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
LEWISTON — The Round of 48 girls singles tennis tournament continues to be dominated by both Maisie Silverman and Falmouth’s team. Waterville came as close as anyone to changing that Monday.
The Purple Panthers had three girls — Colleen O’Donnell, Tiffany Suchanek, and Olivia Lopes — reach the Round of 16 this year. O’Donnell and Suchanek each made it to the final eight before losing their quarterfinal matches.
The final four on the girls side are Silverman and Falmouth’s three singles players — Olivia Leavitt, Julia Brogan, and Libby Voccola. Silverman, last year’s champion, has lost a total of two games in her three tournament matches this year.
On the boys side, defending champ Jonah Friedland of Lincoln is joined by 2011 champ Patrick Ordway of Waynflete, Falmouth’s Brendan McCarthy, and Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Gilman.
The best match of the day was between No. 6 Peter Higgins of Cape Elizabeth and No. 11 Burke Paxton of North Yarmouth Academy. Paxton won in about three hours, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4. Paxton also had the best line of the day when, talking to tournament directors about how he had to turn around and face Ordway, said, “How long do I have? An hour? Let’s push it to the last second possible.”
Messalonskee’s Jai Aslam reached the Round of 16 on the boys side. In his match Monday, Aslam fell to Waynflete’s Isaac Salas, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“Isaac’s a really good player,” Aslam said. “We sort of have the same style — keeping the ball in play. He’s a little bit better at that. I think I have a little bit better serve. I had my opportunities in the second set, definitely, and I played a couple loose points when it was 4-all.
“I’m pretty happy with how I did,” Aslam added. “I played really well, and Isaac came out on top. It’s all right.”
Lopes, who was not seeded in the tournament, advanced to Monday’s play by defeating No. 9 Pauline Liebig of Hampden on Saturday. Against No. 8 Shashanna Moll of Belfast, Lopes battled in a tough match, but Moll prevailed, 6-4, 6-3.
“I think I played better in the second set,” Lopes said. “I trusted my strokes a little bit more. I think definitely the nerves kind of got to me in the first set. I was kind of pushing the ball a little more than I probably should have. Second set, I just tried to loosen up and hit the ball.”
Suchanek, seeded fourth on the girls side, opened the day with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Abby Blakeley of Camden Hills. While facing Brogan, Suchanek was up against both a tough competitor and a strong wind. At one point in the first set, Brogan tossed the ball in the air four times, only to catch it when it was caught by the wind. Finally, Brogan was able to serve on her fifth attempt.
“It was a little hard to hit the ball where you wanted it to go,” Suchanek said.
Suchanek led 5-4 and was serving in the first set before Brogan came back for a 7-5 victory. Suchanek easily won the second set, 6-1, then led 3-1 in the third set before Brogan took the last five games and the match.
“My legs were a little sore, so that may have played a factor in it,” Suchanek said.
O’Donnell, the No. 3 seed, also opened with a win by taking a 6-2, 6-0 decision from Brunswick’s Ali Stankiewicz. In her next match, O’Donnell went from up 5-4 on Voccola in the first set to down 6-5 before rallying to force a tie-breaker. Voccola won the tie-breaker, 7-3, then captured the second set, 6-3.
“She’s very consistent, so after a while I was getting impatient and trying to go for more,” O’Donnell said. “She won more points.”
While none of the Waterville girls got to face Silverman and challenge her individual dominance, the Purple Pantehrs did earn some respect in a tournament and sport usually highlighted by the performance of players from the southern part of the state.
“I think it surprised people that we all made it to the Round of 16, and Tiffany and I made it to the Round of 8,” O’Donnell said. “I think we all played great.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243