By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
One goal down, one to go. The Havre Blue Pony boys tennis team accomplished its quest to capture a fifth-straight Central A Divisional championship by running away from the field on Saturday at the Central A Divisional tennis tournament in Butte.
The Pony boys team racked up 62 team points en route to the team title with Havre players finishing first and second in both singles and doubles. While the results did not surprise Havre High head coach Sam Dierman, he is still very proud of what his team accomplished this weekend.
"The boys team did everything I hoped it would do," Dierman said. "Our goal all year has been to go after a fourth-straight state championship and because of its performance at divisional they are now in a position to do that.
In boys doubles, the No. 1 team of Jeremy Heninger and Daine Solomon kept their undefeated season going with a 7-5, 6-3 win over teammates, Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner, in the championship match.
Neither team was challenged on its way to the final match and will now be poised to meet again at this weekend's Class A State meet, as they will be on opposite sides of the tournament bracket.
Meanwhile, Havre's No. 3 team of Ian Spencer and Coda Tchida came up short in their bid to reach the State A meet. The duo lost a tough three-set decision to Lewistown's No. 1 team in the quarterfinals. They then dropped another heartbreaking three-set decision to the Eagles No. 2 squad in a match that would have got them to the state meet if they had won.
"The only thing that was disappointing about the boys' weekend was that Ian and Coda did not get to state," Dierman said. "They have played so well all season, but they just came up a little short this weekend."
In singles, Havre sophomore Kyle Baltrusch successfully defended his Central A title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over senior teammate Cody McLain in the championship match. Both Baltrusch and McLain cruised to the final match with wins over the Ernst brothers from Lewistown in the semifinals.
"Kyle and Cody both played really well this weekend," Dierman said. "They will now be on opposite sides of the bracket at state which will be very good for us. It is something that we did not have last season."
Freshmen Chase Castloo went 2-3 on the weekend and came within one match of also qualifying for the state meet.
While the boys team continued their Central A dominance, a familiar pattern reemerged for the Havre High girls. After the first day of the meet, the Pony girls were poised to make a run at the divisional title as they had two singles players and two doubles teams in the semifinals. But things did not go the Ponies' way on Saturday, as they finished second for the fifth-straight season to Livingston. The Rangers won the meet with 51 points while the Ponies scored 43.
"The girls title was up for grabs after the first day," Dierman said. "However, we faded on the second day and that is disappointing because it was right there for us. We just didn't perform."
Sophomore Amy McLain reached the championship match with a win in the semifinals, but she was defeated by Krista Brand of Lewistown in the title match in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6. Senior teammate Crystal Pyrak also reached the semifinals before losing, but Pyrak managed to bounce back to capture third place with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Rachel Hoover of Livingston in the consolation match. Sophomore Megan Rice also won several matches for the Ponies this weekend, but came up one victory short from earning a trip to the state tournament.
"Crystal and Amy were the two best singles players there this weekend," Dierman said. "Hopefully, they will perform like I know they can at state.
"Megan Rice played really well this weekend," Dierman added. "If she works hard this summer, she is going to have a great junior season."
Perhaps the most surprising part of Havre's weekend came in girls doubles. Havre's No. 2 team of freshman Keelie Solomon and Steph Flatau rallied through the loser-out bracket to capture a fourth-place finish and qualify for the state meet in their first try. However, Havre's No. 1 team of Ryan Hamilton and Jennifer Gorder lost in the semifinals and then could not get through the loser-out bracket.
"Our girls doubles teams did not perform like I thought they would," Dierman said. "It is a great accomplishment to qualify for the state tournament as freshmen, but Jennifer and Ryan were not really in sync the whole weekend. They have been outstanding players at Havre High School and it was sad to see them finish their careers like this."
Havre's No. 3 duo of Sara Suek and Erika Johnson also went 1-2 this weekend to end their season.
In all, the Ponies qualified six boys and four girls for the Class A state tournament which begins Friday in Lewistown.
Team scores - Livingston 51, Havre 43, Lewistown 38, Butte Central 12, Anaconda 11
Championship - Krista Brand, Lewistown, def. Amy McLain, Havre, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Third place - Crystal Pyrak, Havre, def. Rachel Hoover, Livingston, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Semifinals - McLain def. Hoover, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Brand def. Pyrak, 7-5, 6-4.
Consolation matches - Tessa Spear, Anaconda, def. Courtney Chapman, Lewistown, 6-3, 6-2. Megan Rice, Havre, def. Ashley Angle, Livingston, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Pyrak def. Spear, 6-3, 6-2. Hoover def. Rice, 6-2, 6-0.
Championship - Trish Nelson-Whitney Scofield, Livingston, def. Meghan Foote-Agnes Kesting, Livingston, 6-1, 6-2.
Third place - Erin Butler-Shalynn Conroy, Lewistown, def. Steph Flatau-Keelie Solomon, Havre, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4).
Semifinals - Nelson-Scofield def. Flatau-Solomon, 7-5, 6-3. Foote-Kesting def. Jennifer Gorder-Ryan Hamilton, Havre, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.
Consolation matches - Flatau-Solomon, Havre def. Devin Nelson-Aura Carpenter, Lewistown, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5). Butler-Conroy def. Autumn Durfey-Sarah Graf, Livingston, 6-2, 6-2. Nelson-Carpenter def. Chandra Calder-Ayla Marjamaa, Anaconda, 6-1, 6-2. Butler-Conroy, Lewistown, def. Gorder-Hamilton, Havre, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Team scores - Havre 62, Lewistown 36, Butte Central 8.
Championship - Kyle Baltrusch, Havre, def. Cody McLain, Havre, 6-2, 6-3.
Third place - Brady Ernst, Lewistown, def. Jeff Ernst, Lewistown, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
Semifinals - Baltrusch def. B. Ernst, 6-1, 6-2. McLain def. J. Ernst, 7-5, 6-3.
Consolation matches - J. Ernst def. Chase Castloo, Havre, 6-3, 6-2. B. Ernst def. Nic Siddoway, Butte Central, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Championship - Jeremy Heninger-Daine Solomon, Havre, def. Marc Mariani-Gary Wagner, Havre, 7-5, 6-3.
Third place - Carson Sweeney-Casey Jenni, Lewistown, def. Vince Bride-Jon Byerly, Lewistown, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Semifinals - Solomon-Heninger, Havre, def. Bride-Byerly, Lewistown, 6-3, 6-1. Mariani-Wagner def. Sweeney-Jenni, 6-2, 6-3.
Consolation matches - Sweeney-Jenni def. Josh Kling-Brett Hitchcock, Butte Central, 6-1, 6-2. Bride-Byerly def. Coda Tchida-Ian Spencer, Havre, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.