By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The theme is becoming all too familiar for the Havre High tennis team. Same teams, different venue. For the first two weeks of the season the Ponies have faced off in dual and tournament action against Cut Bank, Conrad and Lewistown.
On Saturday, the four schools will do it one more time as Havre becomes the home sight of this traveling tennis foursome for the annual Havre Invitational tennis tournament.
This weekend the tourney will feature a different format than in previous weeks. The teams will play in a regular double elimination bracket format, but the brackets will be divided by seeds.
In girls, there will be four singles brackets comprised of No. 1's through No. 4's. The doubles brackets will be divided between No. 1 doubles teams and No. 2 doubles teams. The boys tourney will feature brackets comprised of No. 1's and No. 2's and No.3's and No.4's. In doubles, there will be one doubles bracket for the entire tournament.
"This tournament should be very competitive," said Havre High head coach Sam Dierman. "The boys singles bracket will feature six of the best players in the state and my hope is that it will resemble a state tournament type of situation."
Besides Lewistown, Conrad and Cut Bank, the Pony girls team will be joined by Chinook and Chester on Saturday.
The Havre team will again be somewhat revamped this weekend due to the state music festival. Crystal Pyrak and Amy McLain will play in the No. 1 singles bracket for the Ponies. Kasey Peterson, Megan Rice and Erika Johnson will all compete at No. 2. Jenna Baltrusch and Kelsey Evans will play No. 3 and Karissa Olson will be in the No. 4 bracket. In doubles, Havre will have just the team of Jennifer Gorder and Ryan Hamilton in the No. 1 bracket and no team in the No. 2's.
"I tried to get as many girls in the singles bracket this weekend," Dierman said. "I needed them to play a lot of matches so I can see where we stand as a team right now and find the right combination of players."
In the boys tourney, the Ponies will go with Kyle Baltrusch and Cody McLain in the top bracket. Chase Castloo, Lucas Hamilton and John Christian will play in the other singles bracket. In doubles, Havre will go with five teams in the lone bracket. Jeremy Heninger and Daine Solomon will be joined by the teams of Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner, Ian Spencer and Coda Tchida as well as the teams of Logan Grant and Scott Miller and Austin Small and Tristan Welter.
"The thing I like about this week is that we finally have a full boys team," Dierman said. "However, right now our problem is getting the boys players to the next level. We need to get them to be a lot more consistent, and hopefully this weekend we'll start to see that out of them."
Even though the Ponies have been on the road the first two weeks of the season, Dierman said that in tennis there isn't a lot of advantage to playing at home this weekend.
"I don't think home court advantage really makes much difference," Dierman said. "But it is nice for the kids to play in front of friends and family. It also makes for a very competitive tournament because the Class B schools get really fired up coming in here. We are really looking forward to Saturday."
The action will get under way at 8 a.m. at Havre High school tennis courts. The upper college courts will also be used for the lower singles brackets. The championship rounds are scheduled for around 4 p.m. at the high school courts.