By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
It is no wonder the Havre High boys tennis team has won three straight Class A state championships. The Ponies have been absolutely rolling over their competition in the past few weeks. But the catch is, it was against Class AA schools, not Class A.
As expected, the Blue Pony boys team went undefeated in pool play at this weekend's Great Falls Invitational team dual tournament.
The Havre High girls team, which has been coming on very strong of late, finished with an impressive 3-1 record over the weekend as well. The performance from both teams was very pleasing to veteran Havre High head coach Sam Dierman.
"It was a very good weekend of tennis for both our teams," Dierman said. "With the boys taking first and the girls placing second, we had a very impressive showing against Class AA competition."
Once again, the Pony boys were paced by their strong trio of doubles teams.
The top-ranked team of Jeremy Heninger and Daine Solomon went 4-0 on the weekend as did the No. 2 duo of Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner. Ian Spencer and Coda Tchida also went 4-0 on the weekend, which brings the trio's record to 30-0 this season against Class AA opponents.
"Our boys doubles teams are so dominant right now," Dierman said. "It is scary how well they are playing.
"This weekend Jeremy and Daine and Marc and Gary were not even challenged. And the nice thing is that Ian and Coda are improving more and more with every match," Dierman added.
In boys singles, the duo of Kyle Baltrusch and Cody McLain traded days at the No. 1 position for the Ponies.
On Friday, Baltrusch dropped two close matches at the No. 1 spot, but rebounded on Saturday to pick up a pair of victories at the No. 2 spot.
Meanwhile, McLain went 2-0 on Friday at No. 2 and didn't lose a game to either of his opponents.
On Saturday, he lost his No. 1 singles match in the dual against Butte High but picked up a win against Billings Skyview in the final dual of the day to finish the tournament with a 3-1 overall record.
"Kyle and Cody are a step away from being great players right now, and they had their moments this weekend," Dierman said. "But we are just not getting the consistency out of our singles players that we need to be a great team."
The boys' only team test came in a 4-3 win over Bozeman on Friday night, and the Pony girls team also ran into a solid Bozeman team and fell 4-3 for its only dual loss on the weekend.
Amy McLain had as impressive a performance as any Havre player in the tournament. McLain finished with a 4-0 record that included a dramatic 8-6 win over Kate Richards of Bozeman.
Richards was undefeated this season and was on a collision course with Missoula Sentinel standout Ristine Olson at this year's Class AA state tournament. Olson is headed to the University of Texas on a full-ride tennis scholarship while Richards is also projected to be a Division I tennis player.
"Amy's match with Kate Richards was one of the best matches in a long time," Dierman said. "She (Richards) was expected to make it to the state tournament undefeated and play Ristine Olson, and Amy spoiled that plan.
"Amy just played amazing tennis all weekend," Dierman added.
Crystal Pyrak also had a solid weekend for the Ponies. Pyrak went 3-1 overall, including two wins at the No. 1 spot on Saturday. Mallory Creswell and Megan Rice also played well, going a combined 7-1 in singles competition to help the Ponies to a second-place finish.
In doubles competition, the Havre girls got two wins from the top team of Jennifer Gorder and Ryan Hamilton. The No. 2 duo of Keelie Solomon and Steph Flatau picked up four wins and the No. 3 team of Sara Suek and Erika Johnson went 3-1.
"We are starting to improve in the area of girls doubles," Dierman said. "Steph and Keelie went undefeated for us and they are continuing to improve each week. They are probably two of the best freshmen we have had in a long time."
The Ponies are off this week before returning to action on May 10 in Lewistown.
Great Falls Invitational
Final Blue Pool standings - Havre 4-0, Butte 3-1, Bozeman 2-2, Great Falls High 0-3-1, Billings Skyview 0-3-1
Final Green Pool standings - Billings Senior 4-0, C.M. Russell High 3-1, Cut Bank 2-2, Billings West 1-3, Lewistown 0-4
Friday, April 25
Havre 5, GFH 2
Singles - Spencer Grey, GFH def. Kyle Baltrusch, Hav 8-3; Cody McLain, Hav def. Brian Knutson, GFH 8-0; John Kempf, GFH def. John Christian, Hav 8-2; Lucas Hamilton, Hav won by forfeit.
Doubles - Jeremy Heninger-Daine Solomon, Hav, def. Chris Chaisson-Dustin Wells, GFH 8-1; Marc Mariani-Gary Wagner, Hav, def. Dan Flaherty-Kory Alfred, GFH 8-2; Ian Spencer-Coda Tchida, Hav, def. Jared Buus-David Currie, GFH 8-2.
Havre 4, Bozeman 3
Singles - Andrew Larson, Boz, def. Kyle Baltrusch, Hav 8-7 (7-5); Cody McLain, Hav, def. Daniel Jacobson, Boz 8-0; Chris Bade, Boz, def. John Christian, Hav 8-6; Robert Lin, Boz, def. Lucas Hamilton, Hav 8-6.
Doubles - Jeremy Heninger-Daine Solomon, Hav, def. Steve Jackson-Wade Holland, Boz 8-3; Marc Mariani-Gary Wagner, Hav, def. Phillip Fischer-Ben Tengelsen, Boz 8-0; Ian Spencer- Coda Tchida, Hav, def. Jeff Hickey - Ryan Gautt, Boz 8-3.
Saturday, April 26
Havre 5, Butte 2
Singles - Brett Stenzer, Butte, def. Cody McLain, Hav 8-7 (7-4); Kyle Baltrusch, Hav, def. Calvin Lee, Butte 8-3; Brady Bentley, Butte, def. John Christian, Hav 8-6; Lucas Hamilton, Hav def. Nicholas Huang, Butte 8-2.
Doubles - Jeremy Heninger-Daine Solomon, Hav, def. Blake Bentley-Jeff Cooney, Butte 8-2; Marc Mariani-Gary Wagner, Hav, def. Dean Bentley-Bryan McNabb, Butte 8-2; Ian Spencer-Coda Tchida, Hav, def. Quinn Dennehy-Cody Peoples 8-0.
Havre 7, Skyview 0
Singles - Cody McLain, Hav, def. Chad Holgard 8-3; Kyle Baltrusch, Hav, def. Joey Bonawitz 8-2; John Christian, Hav, def. Mike Kratochoil 8-0; Lucas Hamilton, Hav, won by forfeit.
Doubles - Daine Solomon-Jeremy Heninger, Hav, def. Simon Wald-Johnny Thompson 8-1; Marc Mariani-Gary Wagner, Hav, def. Kenny Sheehan-Dan Mack 8-0; Coda Tchida-Ian Spencer, Hav, def. Nick Jones-Tanner Bennion 8-0.
Final Blue Pool standings - Bozeman 4-0, Havre 3-1, Billings Skyview 2-2, Great Falls High 1-3, Butte 0-4.
Final Green Pool standings - C.M. Russell High 3-1, Billings Senior 3-1, Billings West 3-1, Lewistown 1-3, Cut Bank 0-4.
Friday, April 25
Havre 6, GFH 1
Singles - Amy McLain, Hav, def. Kenzie Rangel, GFH 8-0; Crystal Pyrak, Hav def. Nicole Dowson, Hav 8-0; Megan Rice, Hav, def. Britney Smith, GFH 8-0; Mallory Creswell, Hav, def. Jessica Farrington, GFH 8-2.
Doubles - Megan Galloway-Lindsey Robinson, GFH, def. Ryan Hamilton-Jennifer Gorder, Hav 8-7 (7-5); Keelie Solomon-Steph Flatau, Hav, def. Lidsay Godwin-Laura Martin 8-7 (8-6); Erika Johnson-Sara Suek, Hav, def. Whitney Johnson -Kristen Norbie, GFH 8-0.
Bozeman 4, Havre 3
Singles - Amy McLain, Hav, def. Kate Richards, Boz 8-6; Alaina Garcia, Boz, def. Crystal Pyrak, Hav 8-4; Aubrie Ler, Boz, def. Megan Rice, Hav 8-1; Hanah MaCarthey, Boz, def. Mallory Creswell, Hav 8-3.
Doubles - McKenzie Wallac-Mary Ann Hanson, Boz, def. Ryan Hamilton-Jennifer Gorder, Hav 8-3; Steph Flatau-Keelie Solomon, Hav, def. Katie Colton-Lindsay Booth, Boz 8-4; Erika Johnson-Sara Suek, Hav, def. Alyssa Larson-Britta Lee, Boz 8-4.
Saturday, April 26
Havre 5, Butte 2
Singles - Crystal Pyrak, Hav, def. Ashley Rongstad, Butte 8-0; Amy McLain, Hav, def. Emily Pfeifer, Butte 8-0; Megan Rice, Hav, def. Zoe Dureya 8-1; Mallory Creswell, Hav, def. Bartholomew, Butte 8-0.
Doubles - Ryan Hamilton-Jennifer Gorder, Hav, def. Kelsey Manchester-Sheena Hettick, Butte 8-4; Laura Burger-Nicole Kiely, Butte, def. Erika Johnson-Sara Suek, Hav 8-7 (8-6); Keelie Solomon-Steph Flatau, Hav, def. Vinetta Surber-Janna Smith, Butte 8-0.
Havre 7, Skyview 0
Singles - Crystal Pyrak, Hav, def. Lindsay Thomson 8-7 (7-0); Amy McLain, Hav, def. Jeri Lynn Williamson 8-0; Megan Rice, Hav, def. Kallie Charlton 8-2; Mallory Cresswell, Hav, def. Katie Stott 8-1.
Doubles - Jennifer Gorder-Ryan Hamilton, Hav, def. Jackie Thomson-Rikki Peack 8-6; Erika Johnson-Sara Suek, Hav, def. Kayla Beach-Jenny Dolan 8-5; Keelie Solomon-Steph Flatau, Hav, def. Shaina Robbins-Lacey Hunt 8-0.