By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High tennis team made it a clean sweep of the team titles at the Conrad Invitational tennis tournament on Friday. But it was a reversal of sorts.
It was the Havre High girls squad, which stepped out of the boys' much ballyhooed shadow, with the dominant performance.
Pony girls finished in three of the top four places in the singles portion and won third in the doubles en route to 35 team points, easily outdistancing second-place Lewistown's 19 points.
Havre dominated the singles portion of the girls tourney as Amy McLain defeated teammate Megan Rice 8-3 to win the title.
McLain cruised to the finals, losing only one game in three matches. Rice won a tough 8-7 decision over Conrad's Kelli Bergstrom in the semifinals.
"Our singles players really carried the load," said head coach George Ferguson. "Amy McLain played very sharp for only the second tournament of the year and Megan Rice pulled out a really good win in the semifinals. This early in the year, it would have been pretty easy to let that one slip away, but she gutted it out and got into the final against Amy. I was really proud of Megan for pulling that match out."
The Ponies also got a fourth-place finish from Karissa Olson, who lost to Bergstrom in her second match and in the consolation final.
"Karissa Olson once again shined for us this weekend as well," Ferguson said. "She is getting better each time she steps on the court."
No. 4 singles players Christen Kittelson dropped her first two matches of the tournament.
Havre's No. 1 doubles team of Steph Flatau and Keelie Solomon finished a somewhat disappointing third, defeating Lewistown's Shaylynn Conroy and Caitlin Flament in the consolation finals. Flatau and Solomon lost to Lewistown's top doubles squad of Alira Carpenter and Devin Nelson in the semifinals.
The Ponies' No. 2 team of Kristi Hollingshead and Jocelyn Chagnon lost both of their matches.
"Our girls doubles teams didn't do as well as they would have liked, but it is really early in the year and our young teams are still learning," Ferguson said. "Steph and Keelie were playing their first tournament this season and they got upset in the semis against a solid team from Lewistown. I know they were a little disappointed in finishing third, but there is no doubt in my mind that you will see them get stronger and stronger with each match they play from here on out."
The Havre boys weren't quite as dominant, but still won the tournament, edging Cut Bank by a single point. Havre took a first-place finish in doubles and a second and third in singles to score 32 points, while Cut Bank finished with 31.
"As a team, the boys didn't have as strong a showing as I would have liked this weekend." "We definitely lost several matches that we shouldn't have."
Havre grabbed the doubles title. The duo of Gary Wagner and Marc Mariani was dominant, losing only three games in three matches while winning the title. The No. 2 doubles team of John Christian and Jordan Croft lost both of its matches, including a very tough loss in the second round.
"It was Marc and Gary's first weekend together this season and they played well," Ferguson said. "But they know that it is early for them and they can get a lot better."
On the singles side, three-time defending Class B state champ Keithan Gregg of Cut Bank, showed why he is one of the top players in the state demolishing Havre's own two-time defending state champ Kyle Baltrusch in the championship. Gregg also defeated Havre's Daine Solomon in the quarterfinals 6-3. Solomon rallied to win three more matches to take third with an easy win over Cut Bank's Brian McDivitt in the consolation final.
"Kyle and Daine played really well, but they both ran into a buzzsaw in Keithan Gregg," Ferguson said. "I don't think either of them is as far away from Keithan as the scores showed and this weekend they'll get another shot at him."
Havre's No. 3 player, Chase Castloo, dropped both of his matches while No. 4 player, Lucas Hamilton finished a solid 2-2 on the weekend.
As a whole, it wasn't an awe-inspiring performance by the boys, but Ferguson believes his team will get better.
"The good thing about this weekend is that it exposed some of our weaknesses as a team," Ferguson said. "I think we're a long way from being where I want us to be, but we have a lot of time to get better and that is what we are going to do."
The Havre girls are in action today in a dual match with Chinook. The entire team will return to action on Saturday when it hosts the Havre Invitational on the Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts.
Team Scores - Havre 32, Cut Bank 31, Lewistown 13, Conrad 6
Kyle Baltrusch (2nd Place)
Def T. Zempe, Con, 6-0; def Brian McDivitt,CB, 6-2; def N. Geiger,CB 8-3; lost to Keithan Gregg,CB 8-0.
Daine Solomon (3rd Place)
Def M. Pollard, LEW, 6-2, lost to K. Gregg, CB, 6-3; def L. Woods, CON, 6-0, def M. Gruener, LEW, 6-0; def N. Geiger, CB, 8-0, def B. McDivitt, CB, 8-2.
Lost to M. Richter, LEW, 6-3; lost to L. Woods, CON, 6-3.
Def J. Pearson, CON, 6-0; lost to N. Geiger, CB, 6-4; def C. Holst, LEW, 6-2; lost to B. McDivitt, CB, 6-1.
Marc Mariani/Gary Wagner (1st Place)
Def Mezanarich/Cline, CB, 6-0; def Seph/Gruener, LEW, 8-1; def Larson/Lewis, CB, 8-2.
John Christian/Jordan Croft
Lost to Petersheck/Braine, LEW, 6-3; lost to Vanteel/Conn, CON, 6-5.
Team Scores - Havre 35, Lewistown 19, Conrad 14, Cut Bank 14
Amy McLain (1st Place)
Def S. Vise, LEW, 6-0; def R. Ollinger, CB, 6-1, def T. Bauer, CB, 8-0; def Megan Rice, HAV, 8-3.
Megan Rice (2nd Place)
Def K. Cooper, CB, 6-2; def E. Gordon, LEW, 6-0; def K. Bergstrom, CON, 8-7 (7-5), lost to Amy McLain, HAV, 8-3.
Karissa Olson (4th Place)
Def L. Gregg, CB, 6-4, lost to K. Bergstrom, CON, 1-6; def B. Johns, CON, 6-2; def L. Gregg, CB, 6-3, def T. Bauer, CB, 6-3; lost to K. Bergstrom, CON, 4-6.
Lost to A. Olson, LEW, 2-6; lost to A. Kiel, CON, 1-6.
Steph Flatau/Keelie Solomon (3rd Place)
Def Martin/Stubbs, CON, 6-1, lost to Nelson/Carpenter, LEW, 4-8; def Kalbas/Bruce, CON, 8-6; def Conroy/Flament, LEW, NA.
Kristi Hollingshead/Jocelyn Chagnon
Lost to Jacobsen/Rice, CB, 2-6; lost to Kalbas/Bruce, CON, 5-6, (5-7).