By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High tennis team made a major statement last weekend at the rain-shortened Helena Invitational by defeating some of the best teams that Class AA has to offer. This weekend they will get that opportunity again as they face a full field of AA opponents at the Great Falls Invitational, which begins this afternoon at tennis courts around the Electric City.
Unlike the Helena Invitational, this weekend's tournament in Great Falls will be a dual format instead of individual brackets. The teams will also bring four singles players to Great Falls, compared with three in Helena.
Havre High head coach Sam Dierman likes his teams' chances in the dual format.
"If the weather cooperates, our kids are going to get a lot of matches over the next two days," he said.
The tournament is divided into three separate pools with five teams in each pool. Havre will begin pool play this afternoon at 2:30 with a dual against the Great Falls High Bison at the Charles M. Russell High School tennis courts. Tonight at 6:30, the Ponies will take on the Bozeman Hawks. On Saturday at 10 a.m., Havre will resume play with a dual against Butte High, and will conclude the tournament with a dual against Billings Skyview at 2 p.m.
"I really expect that both the girls and boys teams will do very well this weekend," Dierman said. "The worst we should do is go 3-1. I only say that because we do have to face Bozeman on Friday night and they are typically the best that Class AA has to offer."
On the boys side, the Ponies will have Kyle Baltrusch at No. 1 singles and Cody McLain at No. 2. John Christian will play No. 3 and Lucas Hamilton will make his varsity debut at No. 4. The Pony doubles teams will remain unchanged from last week.
The girls team also remains virtually unchanged from last weekend. Amy McLain will play No. 1 singles and Crystal Pyrak will play No. 2. Megan Rice and Mallory Creswell will round at the singles players for Havre. The top doubles team for the Ponies will be Jennifer Gorder and Ryan Hamilton. The other two doubles teams for the Ponies are undecided but Dierman said it will be some combination of freshmen Keelie Solomon, Steph Flatau, Erika Johnson and Sara Suek.