By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Sometimes it's tough to see just how much a player has improved during the season until they played the same competition a second time. For the Havre High girls tennis team, the improvement of its players can be measured in leaps in bounds.
After losing 18 of 26 matches in dual action against Chinook earlier in the season, the Pony girls turned the tide on Tuesday afternoon at the Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts, defeating the Beeters 11-9 in their second dual of the year.
"This was a very productive dual for our younger girls," said HHS head coach George Ferguson. "When we played Chinook earlier in the season, our JV girls were getting beat pretty badly. Tuesday we saw just how far we've come in a month."
Havre won nine of 15 singles matches to get things rolling early.
With his top three singles players - Amy McLain, Megan Rice and Karissa Olson - not competing, Ferguson mixed up the lineup some, having the No. 1 doubles team Steph Flatau and Keelie Solomon and No. 2 doubles team of Kari Gorder and Kristi Hollingshead play some singles matches along with their usual doubles matches.
The teams responded. Both Flatau and Solomon defeated Chinook's No. 1 player, Neele Lesske, by a score of 8-4, while Flatau added another 8-0 singles win over Brianna Harbolt.
"Steph and Keelie played some singles matches just for a change of pace," Ferguson said. "They both played very well for being a little out of their element."
Flatau and Solomon were solid in their only doubles match, defeating Chinook's No. 1 doubles team of Melanie Overcast and Lacey Sargent 8-2.
Still, the Ponies were able to win the meet by picking up wins from several of its younger players. Samantha Boucher won a pair of singles matches while Kristi Hollingshead, Christen Kittelson, Katie Dow and Angie Maxwell all added singles win.
"Katy Dow and Christen Kittelson are two players who have progressed really nicely over the course of the season," Ferguson said. "They seem to get better every week."
Dow finished the day 1-3, but could have easily been 3-0 after losing a pair of very touch matches in the tiebreaker. Kittelson also finished 1-2 and battled tough in both of her losses.
Chinook's Liz Craig, Gen Burkhartsmeyer and Rebecca Blankenship all picked up two singles wins each. Craig defeated Kittelson 8-4, and then outlasted Gorder 8-7. Blankenship defeated Maxwell 8-3 and then held off Dow 8-7. Burkhartsmeyer edged Dow 8-7 and then knocked off Kittelson 8-4.
In the doubles, Chinook won three of five matches as Overcast and Sargent bounced back from the loss to Flatau and Solomon to win a very tight 8-7 match over Gorder and Hollingshead.
Chinook's No. 2 doubles team of Monica Thackeray and Lacey Tollefson finished the day unbeaten, knocking off Hollingshead and Gorder 8-4 and defeating Havre's No. 3 team of Jocelyn Chagnon and Molly Proctor 8-2.
Proctor and Chagnon rebounded to defeat Chinook's No. 3 team of Kayla Erskine and Dawn Kellam 8-2.
"Our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams are starting to play at a much higher level now," Ferguson said.
Despite turning things around against the Beeters, Ferguson was quick to point out that Chinook will be solid in the looming postseason.
"Chinook has a very good team," he said. "I think they are going to be very tough at the Northern B-C Divisional in two weeks."
Havre returns to action on Saturday at the Fergus Invitational in Lewistown.
Havre 11, Chinook 9
Keelie Solomon, HAV def. Neele Lesske, CHI 8-4
Steph Flatau, HAV def. Neele Lesske, CHI 8-4
Kristi Hollingshead, HAV def. Brianna Harbolt, CHI 8-4
Steph Flatau, HAV def. Brianna Harbolt, CHI 8-0
Liz Craig, CHI def. Christen Kittelson, HAV 8-2
Liz Craig, CHI def. Kari Gorder, HAV 8-7 (7-3)
Gen Burkhartsmeyer, CHI def. Katy Dow, HAV 8-7 (7-5)
Gen Burkhartsmeyer, CHI def. Christen Kittelson, HAV 8-4
Rebecca Blankenship, CHI def. Angie Maxwell, HAV 8-3
Rebecca Blankenship, CHI def. Katy Dow, HAV 8-7 (7-4)
Samantha Boucher, HAV def. Andrea Eslick, CHI 8-5
Christen Kittelson, HAV def. Lorissa Harris, CHI 8-7 (7-5)
Katy Dow, HAV def. Erin Eslick, CHI 8-3
Angie Maxwell, HAV def. Darcie Mohar, CHI 8-5
Samantha Boucher, HAV def. Merylee Ramberg, CHI 8-0
Flatau/Solomon, HAV def. Melanie Overcast/Lacey Sargent, CHI 8-2
Overcast/Sargent, CHI def. Gorder/Hollingshead, HAV 8-7 (7-4)
Monica Thackeray/Lacey Tollefson, CHI def. Hollingshead/Gorder, HAV 8-4
Thackeray/Tollefson, CHI def. Jocelyn Chagnon/Molly Proctor, HAV 8-2
Chagnon/Proctor, HAV def. Kayla Erskine/Dawn Kellam, CHI 8-5