Havre Daily News Sports Editor
With the postseason now a week away, the Havre High tennis teams are poised for plenty of success. The Ponies cruised to a pair of dual wins over Class A powers Polson and Whitefish to wrap up a brilliant regular season.
The HHS boys wrapped up their regular season undefeated. Havre opened Saturday with a 5-2 win over a Polson squad that has state championship aspirations.
Senior Kyle Baltrusch shook off a sluggish first set to defeat Brian Dubuque 7-5, 6-1. Havre's No. 3 singles player Scott Miller scored a 6-1, 6-4 win over Zach brown, while Todd Roe picked up a win at No. 4.
In the doubles, Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner handed Polson's No. 1 team of Logan Klein and Brett Vandenberg its first loss of the season. The No. 2 team of Coda Tchida and Billy Wagner also picked up a big win.
"We got two big wins in the doubles as well as Kyle pulling off a hard fought win at No. 1 singles," said Havre High head coach George Ferguson. "Scott Miller also got us a really big point in that dual. He had a very tough opponent and he played some of his best tennis of the season in that match. It turned out to be the clinching point for us."
Havre followed that up with another 5-2 win, this time over Whitefish. Baltrusch continued his strong play by defeating a good player in Izaac Opatz 6-2, 6-2. Roe also picked up a win over Ian Hosek despite losing the first set.
"Todd Roe picked up a critical point for us in the dual, fighting back from a set down," Ferguson said. "He was pretty nervous at the beginning of the day, but hopefully with these two matches under his belt he will be ready for the postseason."
The Ponies swept the doubles. Mariani and Gary Wagner crushed Kris Archer and Ben Hilliboe, while Tchida and Billy Wagner were also dominant. The Ponies' No. 3 team of Lucas Hamilton and John Christian picked up a 6-1, 6-4 win over Kyle Jacobsen and Brendan Viscomi.
"We were again very tough in doubles," Ferguson said. "Marc and Gary played nearly flawless tennis. You can't play a more perfect match than they played. It is a lot of fun to watch them when they are clicking on all cylinders like that. Coda and Billy also continued to look really good as well."
Havre finished 17-0 in duals, which is something that hasn't happened in quite awhile.
"It's a huge accomplishment if you look at the schedule we played this year," Ferguson said. "To have a dual record like this team had this season is absolutely amazing. I loaded up the schedule this year and this team responded by winning every single dual regardless of who was across the net from them. That feat is something these guys can really hang their hat on, because they beat the best of the best across the state this season."
But it wasn't just the Pony boys that were getting ready for the tennis postseason on Saturday. The HHS girls proved to be a title contender with a pair of big dual wins.
The Ponies crushed Polson 7-0 to open the day. Senior Amy McLain scored a 6-2, 6-0 win over state tourney qualifier Jen Orchard as the Ponies swept the singles in dominant fashion. Megan Rice, Katie Mariani and Karissa Olson also picked up easy wins.
"Amy's win over Jen Orchard was probably not as easy it looks in the scores, because Orchard is a very good player," Ferguson said. "That is a testament to how strong Amy played in that match and how well she has been playing this season."
In the doubles, the No. 1 team of Keelie Solomon and Steph Flatau won a 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 marathon over Emily Fors and Malika Erickson. The No. 2 team of Kari Gorder and Kristi Hollingshead had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-2 win, while the No. 3 team of Alexa Lipp and Hailey McLain also cruised to an easy win.
"Beating Polson without losing a match was very exciting because they have some very good players," Ferguson said. "Sweeping the doubles against Polson was also very nice to see, because typically Western A teams are very strong in doubles. It was a nice way for us to finish that dual off."
But the big moment of the day came when the Ponies knocked off defending Class A state champion Whitefish 4-3. The Ponies' doubles were once again solid as Flatau and Solomon scored an easy 6-0, 6-1 win, while Lipp and Hailey McLain won a very tough 7-5, 7-6 win over Kyla Roy and Brie Barber.
In the singles, Amy McLain lost a tough match to defending state champ Dani Paulson, but Katie Mariani and Olson notched wins to get the team win.
"The nice thing about the win over Whitefish is that we did it in under a lot of pressure," Ferguson said. "After Katie Mariani got us a big point with a really solid win at No. 3 singles we were still down 3-2. But Alexa Lipp and Hailey McLain got a really big win in the doubles, and they played some great tennis along the way. That left the dual up to Karissa, and she came through for us.
"Karissa has had a tough year because she was sick early on, but she has started to play a lot better lately and it showed in her win against Whitefish. Everything started to come together for her in that match and she was able to get us the deciding point."
Ferguson hopes the win over the Bulldogs will give his girls team the confidence it needs at this time in the season.
"The win over Whitefish was really big for our team in a lot of ways," Ferguson said. "Whitefish has a very deep team and it should give our kids a lot of confidence to come away with a hardfought win like that because none of the seven matches were easy for anybody. Also the fact that they are the defending state champs and that they hadn't lost a dual all season should be something that our team can take a lot of pride in."
The Ponies will now head to the Central A Divisional in Butte this weekend.
Havre 5, Polson 2
Kyle Baltrusch, HAV def. Brian Dubuque, POL, 7-5, 6-1; Andy Dykstra, POL def. Chase Castloo, HAV, 6-4, 6-4; Scott Miller, HAV def. Zach Brown, POL, 6-1, 6-4; Todd Roe, HAV def. Jake Grebetz, POL, 7-5, 6-2.
Marc Mariani/Gary Wagner, HAV def. Logan Klein/Brett Vandenberg, POL, 6-2, 6-2; Coda Tchida/Billy Wagner, HAV def. Mitchell Grove/Derrick Roberts, POL, 6-1, 6-1; Sean Holley/Spencer Irwin, POL def. Lucas Hamilton/John Christian, HAV, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Havre 5, Whitefish 2
Kyle Baltrusch, HAV def. Izaac Opatz,WF, 6-2, 6-2; Ben James, WF def. Chase Castloo, HAV, 6-4, 6-1; Kyle Archer, WF def. Scott Miller, HAV, 6-1, 6-1; Todd Roe, HAV def. Ian Hosek, WF, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Marc Mariani/Gary Wagner, HAV def. Kris Archer/Ben Hilliboe, WF, 6-0, 6-0; Coda Tchida/Billy Wagner, HAV def. Cody Harrison/Ryan Rottenbiller, WF, 6-0, 6-1; Lucas Hamilton/John Christian, HAV def. Kyle Jacobsen/Brendan Viscomi, WF, 6-1, 6-4.
Havre 7, Polson 0
Amy McLain, HAV def. Jennifer Orchard, POL, 6-2, 6-0; Megan Rice, HAV def. Elise Bennett, POL, 6-2, 6-2; Katie Mariani, HAV def. Mattea York, POL, 6-1, 6-3; Karissa Olson, HAV def. Jerika Ward, POL, 6-1, RET.
Steph Flatau/Keelie Solomon, HAV def. Emily Fors/Malika Erickson, POL, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5; Kari Gorder/Kristi Hollingshead, HAV def. Maddie Grebetz/Jessica Bowers, POL, 6-2, 6-3; Alexa Lipp/Hailey McLain, HAV def. Marli Harmon/Addie Krantz, POL, 6-2, 6-1.
Havre 4, Whitefish 3
Dani Paulson, WF def. Amy McLain, HAV, 6-0, 6-4; Taylor Beach, WF def. Megan Rice, HAV, 6-1, 7-5; Katie Mariani, HAV def. Jessie Kuennen, WF, 6-1, 6-1; Karissa Olson, HAV def. Jerika Ward, WF, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Steph Flatau/Keelie Solomon, HAV def. Allie Connelly/Kelsi Peace, WF, 6-0, 6-1, Kyla Salisbury/Maresa Jenson, WF def. Kari Gorder/Kristi Hollingshead, HAV, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5; Alexa Lipp/Hailey McLain, HAV def. Kyla Roy/Brie Barber, WF, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).