2017-05-24 / Sports

Trojan boys, girls complete perfect seasons

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Associate Sports Editor

SACO — Just one day after the Thornton Academy girls tennis team clinched a perfect 12-0 season, the TA boys topped Biddeford 5-0 to also cap off an undefeated season for the third straight year on Tuesday.

With this week’s wins, both the boys and girls clinch the top seed in the playoffs and also win the Southwestern Maine Activities Association championship.

“It’s nice to finish the regular season undefeated again and win a third S.M.A.A championship in a row and get the first seed,” said TA boys tennis coach Andrew Carlson. “That’s all good, hopefully that gives us some confidence heading into the playoffs.”

The defending state champions cruised to a 5-0 sweep of Biddeford in the season finale, which began on Monday but was finished Tuesday due to a rain delay.

TA’s Dariy Vykhodtsev topped Biddeford’s Evan Santiago 6-0, 6-0 while Balasz Balati beat Camden Saucier 6-0, 6-0. Jack Xiao rounded out the singles portion with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Ricky Ruck.

TA doubles pairing Adam Lovejoy and Asher Thompson took a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Biddeford’s Caleb Ball and James Nunes while Caleb Richard and Jon Ma won 6-0, 6-0 over Adam Lewis and Connor Newton.

“(I’m) proud of the guys — they performed well and took care of their responsibilities and executed on the court,” said Carlson. “We’ve got to take that as a foundation and try to build a little bit and get a little bit cleaner. Hopefully we’ll see that add up for us in the playoffs.”

Lovejoy and Thompson have been proud of the team’s effort this season, and feel that hard work has been crucial to the Trojans’ success.

“This year we’ve been playing really good and going to practice every day. We put a lot of effort into this season — it’s one of the biggest reasons why we’ve played so well these past three seasons. We’ve been working hard,” said Lovejoy.

“Hard work is key here — we work hard every season,” added Thompson. “We’ve brought in some guys and they’ve played great for us and I think we need to take that into the playoffs to be successful.”

Despite Tuesday’s loss, the Tigers lead the pack for the final seed in the playoffs. Biddeford coach Mark Ouellette is happy with the progress his team made this year and where the program stands as a whole.

“We’re about where we should be. It matters how (the playoff seeding) breaks down, but this is great for next year. We have a young core, we’ve improved this season and that’s all we do,” said Ouellette.

The Trojans look to win their second consecutive state title, and Thompson hopes that experience will help TA along the way.

“Experience is going to be huge. To get rid of those nerves heading into the bigger matches will help,” said Thompson.

The TA girls topped visiting Biddeford 4-0 on Monday to also clinch the undefeated season and the top seed in the playoffs. It was also TA’s first ever S.M.A.A. championship.

“I couldn’t be happier to see the girls build on their 10 regular season wins last year, the momentum of that let the girls work hard this season and work hard in the offseason as well,” said TA girls coach Dan Frost. “Our assistant coach Ian Purvis has been a great resource for the team and has been here for us at the weekend tournaments and has helped day in and day out and I have been grateful to have him as part of the squad too.”

The TA girls look to capture their first ever state title, and Frost believes that his team’s veterans will need to step up in order to achieve that.

“Experience will play a big part. For a lot of them, they’re seeing the postseason in new positions so it’s all new and all fresh, it keeps it exciting for them,” said Frost. “We’re going to need our captains — Emma Nassif and Eva Sachs at singles are really going to have to step up and lead the way for the younger athletes. They’ve gone undefeated this season so I have great confidence in them.”

Win or lose, TA tennis has become the gold standard for high school tennis in the state of Maine, and Frost and Carlson are excited for the Trojan community to experience it together.

“It’s really exciting — for both programs to be at that point and for both programs to work together,” said Frost. “Andy and (assistant coach) Chris (Kohl) have been incredible resources for me as a new coach at TA and I’m really appreciative for the help that they’ve given me throughout the seasons I’ve coached.”

“Couldn’t be happier with the status of TA tennis. The girls are undefeated, win their first S.M.A.A championship in the history of the school, first seed going into the tournament, it’s great for tennis in Southern Maine,” said Carlson. “That’s a great thing, for them to have that success I think is a reflection of Coach Frost and his coaching staff but also the development of tennis on the girls side. It’s a process and it’s nice to see that progress.”

— Associate Sports Editor Alex Sponseller can be reached at asponseller@journaltribune.com or at 282-1535 ext. 323. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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