Havre Daily News
The Helena Invitational tennis tournament is a big step up in competition for the Havre High tennis teams each and every season. In years past, the Ponies have done very well at what is widely considered one of Montana's toughest tests in high school tennis.
This past weekend in Helena, both HHS teams once again had strong showings as the Ponies proved that even with new players, they still belong with Class AA's elite players.
“It was hard to tell how we would do going into the Helena tournament, because we were missing some key players and we were taking some kids who had never been up against this kind of competition before,” HHS head coach George Ferguson said. “But all of our kids really stepped their game up this weekend and played well. The kids got in a lot of matches against stiff competition, and I think everybody really competed at a very high level.”
On the girls side, Havre's No. 3 doubles team of Karissa Olson and Alexa Lipp finished in second place in their bracket, falling to Bozeman's No. 3 team in the championship match. Olson and Lipp played lights-out tennis throughout the tournament, cruising into the title match with three dominating victories.
The Ponies also got a standout performance from the No. 2 tandem of Kari Gorder and Kristi Hollingshead, who finished fourth in their bracket. Gorder and Hollingshead lost twice to Billings West's Kristin Cole and Patricia Langlas.
“Wow. That is all I can say about the performance of our girls doubles teams this weekend,” Ferguson said. “Alexa and Karissa were nearly unbeatable, and they lost a heartbreaking match to Bozeman in the championship. And Kristi and Kari played some of their best tennis of their careers against some of the best competition they have ever faced.
“Our girls doubles teams really led us this weekend,” he added. “I couldn't be more proud of all four of those girls for how they rose to the occasion at this tournament.”
Havre also got good production from its young girls singles contingent. Sophomore Katie Mariani played three difficult matches against quality Class AA opponents, including a first-round come-from-behind win over Helena Capitol's Sara Fox. Fellow sophomore Haley McLain also had a strong showing, winning two matches. And steadily improving freshman Hope Hedges came within one win of reaching the consolation finals in the No. 3 bracket.
The HHS boys, who have routinely dominated this tournament over the last six years, found the going a little more difficult. Havre didn't have a single player in doubles or singles reach a final or a consolation final in Helena.
However, seniors Chase Castloo and John Christian played well in the No. 1 doubles bracket, winning two matches and losing two close matches to Bozeman's top-rated doubles team. Havre's No. 2 tandem of Ryan Kinholt and David Zentmire also lost to the same team twice, and both teams were within one match of reaching the consolation championship.
“Both Chase and John and David and Ryan really did play exceptionally well this weekend, and that was what our coaching staff was hoping for,” Ferguson said. “Boys doubles was very good at this tournament, and both of those teams played well in every match they played. If it weren't for a couple of bad games at bad times, I think both of those doubles teams would have wound up playing in the championship match.”
In singles, Havre got two wins from No. 2 singles player Todd Roe. Havre's No. 1 singles player, senior Scott Miller, won one match as did No. 3 Shane Kemmer.
“Boys singles was probably the toughest event in the tournament,” Ferguson said. “Scott was playing up, and even though his scores don't really indicate it, he played very well.
“And Shane and Todd both got a lot of valuable experience,” he added. “That to me is much more important than if they won or lost.”
Havre High will return to the courts today when the Ponies head to Great Falls to duel CMR and Great Falls High. Havre will also participate in the Great Falls Invitational tennis tournament this weekend.
“We're starting to really gel right now, especially our girls team,” Ferguson said. “This next two weeks will be crucial for us because we are facing very good competition in Great Falls and Billings, and the kids need to use that as preparation because the postseason will be here very soon.”
No. 1 Scott Miller
Miller lost to Adam Strizich, CAP, 8-2; Miller def. Gabe Pritchett, LIV, 8-2; Miller lost to Brady Bentley, BUT, 8-0.
No. 2 Todd Roe
Roe lost to Phil Elrich, MS, 8-4; Roe def. Andrew Koerner, MBS, 8-4, Roe def. Derrick Clute, LIV, 8-0; Roe lost to Adam Wetzel, BW, 8-3.
No. 3 Shane Kemmer
Kemmer lost to Mark Wallingford, BOZ, 8-4; Kemmer def. Chaz Chavez, LIV, 8-0; Kemmer lost to Zach Stephens, MBS, 8-5.
No.1 Chase Castloo/John Christian
Castloo/Christian lost to Ben Tengelson/Wade Holland, BOZ, 9-8 (8-6); Castloo/Christian def. Dylan Robbins/Andy Rosenblaum, MBS, 8-5; Castloo/Christian def. Jon Gantner/Toby Vogeuane, CAP, 8-5; Castloo/Christian def. Marc Cutler/Brandon Warner, BUT, 8-4; Castloo/Christian lost to Tengelson/Holland, BOZ, 8-6.
No. 2 Ryan Kinholt/David Zentmire
Kinholt/Zentmire lost to Gary Fox/Alan Lamb, BW, 8-3; Kinholt/Zentmire def. Adam Goetz/Mike Jacobsen, LIV, 8-0; Kinholt/Zentmire def. Kody Peoples/Andre Segal, BUT, 8-3; Kinholt/Zentmire def. Max Lentz/Michael Akland, MH, 8-3; Kinholt/Zentmire lost to Fox/Lamb, BW, 9-8 (7-2).
No. 3 Mason Sheppard/Tim McLean
Sheppard/McLean lost to James Cattlin/Tom Beggin, BOZ, 8-6; Sheppard/McLean def. Jeff O'Neal/Chris Volkman, MH, 8-0; Sheppard/McLean def. Jordan Vaughn/Ryan Gregg, KAL, 8-6; Sheppard/McLean lost to Matt Pollok/Shay Lee, BSV, 8-5.
No. 1 Katie Mariani
Mariani def. Sara Fox, CAP, 9-7; Mariani lost to Samantha Selstad, GFH, 6-2, 6-2; Mariani lost to Kate Ness, BW, 8-4.
No. 2 Haley McLain
McLain lost to Risi Arguelles, BW, 8-4; McLain def. Amber Finch, MS, 8-2; McLain def. Stevey Still, BUT, 8-6; McLain lost to Brittney Smith, GFH, 8-5.
No. 3 Hope Hedges
Hedges def. Hannah Barney, LIV, 8-3; Hedges lost to Sophie Lockerby, GFH, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6; Hedges def. Stacey Velasco, DIL, 8-2; Hedges def. Hannah Hanes, KAL, 8-1; Hedges lost to Andrea Chapman, CAP, 8-1.
No. 2 Kari Gorder/Kristi Hollingshead (4th Place)
Gorder/Hollingshead def. Kaylee Altinger/Linden Howard, GFH, 8-1; Gorder/Hollingshead lost to Kristin Cole/Patricia Langlas, BW, 6-4, 6-4; Gorder/Hollingshead def. Heather Donnelly/Katie Ethridge, MBS, 8-3; Gorder/Hollingshead def. Lisa Mason/Mary Anderson, CMR, 8-1; Gorder/Hollingshead def. Chelsea Vaudt/Ashley Vaudt, KAL, 8-5; Cole/Langlas, BW def. Gorder/Hollingshead, 6-4, 6-1.
No. 3 Karissa Olson/Alexa Lipp (2nd Place)
Olson/Lipp def. Shainna Robbins/Jaquelyn Williams, BSV, 8-3; Olson/Lipp def. Katie Waterman/Deni Kuldish, BUT, 6-0, 6-0; Olson/Lipp def. Erin King/Meghan Speilman, BW, 6-1, 6-3; Olson/Lipp lost to Elizabeth Davis/Megan Bittnger, BOZ, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-2).