Havre Daily News
Tennis was in full swing at the Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts on Saturday afternoon in Havre. The competion was as stiff as expected. And the weather cooperated until a thunderstorm rolled in and stopped play at the end of the day.
As great a day for tennis as Saturday was, the 2006 Havre Invitational did not go completely according to plan for the Havre High boys and girls tennis teams.
Although team scores were not kept, the Whitefish boys were fairly dominant in the Bulldogs' first ever appearance at the HHS tournament. And the girls meet saw two-time defending Class A state champion Danni Paulson breeze through the girls singles bracket.
“We knew coming in that the addition of Whitefish would make this tournament a lot more difficult than it has been in years past,” HHS head coach George Ferguson said. “And we worked pretty hard on preparing the kids for that this weekend.
“It isn't that our kids didn't play well, because at times they did,” he added. “But I expected better results than what we got this weekend. We left a lot of unfinished business on our tennis courts on Saturday. And while wins and losses mean a lot to some people, what matters to me is how we played. And I don't think we played up to our standards, collectively.”
In a tournament usually dominated by the Ponies, Havre had one lone champion on Saturday. The senior doubles team of Steph Flatau and Keelie Solomon captured their third straight Havre Invitational championship by defeating Cut Bank's Melanie Rice and Leah Gregg, 10-6 in the girls doubles championship.
“I was really pleased with Steph and Keelie this weekend,” Ferguson said. “They haven't played a lot together because of other commitments and they showed some signs this weekend that they are starting to get into form. The girls doubles draw was pretty tough and they got through it. And it was nice to see them win the last match they are ever going to play on our courts.”
Havre High sophomore Katie Mariani also shined this weekend. Mariani finished second in girls singles after running into the buzz saw that is Paulson.
“Katie looked really sharp,” Ferguson said. “And the score against Danni doesn't reflect how well Katie played. The fact that she stood up and played good tennis against Danni and that this experience will serve Katie well in the long-run is much more important than where she finished in the tournament or what her score against Danni was.”
All of Havre's girls singles players played well on Saturday. Sophomore Haley McLain easily reached the semifinals before falling to Paulson. McLain was on her way to advancing to the consolation championship when the rain ended the tournament late in the day. Freshman Hope Hedges also knocked off Lewistown's top singles player, Ashley Boettger in the opening round and nearly advanced to the consolation semifinals, losing a heartbreaking decision to Whitefish No. 2 Brielle Menagazzi in the loser-out draw.
In doubles, the Ponies had all three teams in line to finish in the top four when the rains came. Aside from Flatau and Solomon's championship, the teams of Kari Gorder and Kristi Hollingshead and Karissa Olson and Alexa Lipp both won multiple matches before rain wiped out the remainder of the loser-out draw.
“I was pretty pleased with how our girls team played as whole,” Ferguson said. “The thing about our girls is that they understand that we're pushing to get better every time we step on the court. So they know that we still have a lot of work to do before the end of May, but that we are also headed in the right direction.”
While the HHS girls team did find some success on its home courts on Saturday, the Havre High boys had one of its most disappointing showings at home in quite some time.
No HHS boys reached a championship match on Saturday, and Lewistown's Stephen and Matt Gruener's boys doubles championship marked the first time that a non-Havre team has captured the Havre Invitational boys doubles championship since at least 1997. Havre's top doubles team of Chase Castloo and John Christian fell to Whitefish's Ryan Rottinbiller and Kyle Jacobsen in the semifinals by a score of 10-1.
“Again, wins and losses just don't concern me as much as how our kids play on a match-to-match basis right now,” Ferguson said. “And as a whole, our boys team just did not play up to their capabilities on Saturday. That is disappointing, because we all have pride and we want to play well in front of our fans. But, the good thing is is that we have time to get it fixed. There is a lot of season left and if the kids put their minds to it, I still think the sky is the limit for this team.”
In boys singles it was an all-Whitefish final with freshman Matt Harris defeating senior teammate Isaac Opatz for the singles title. Havre's Todd Roe was the only HHS player to reach the semifinals. Roe dropped a 10-8 decision to Opatz in that round. Senior Scott Miller, freshman Shane Kemmer and junior Billy Wagner all fell in the quarterfinals, and Roe, Kemmer and Wagner were all still alive in the tournament when the rains came. Kemmer narrowly defeated Miller in the loser-out draw just before the tournament ended.
“It was a good day of tennis and hopefully our kids learned a lot about how important practice and preparation is this weekend,” Ferguson said. “We got in a lot of quality matches against some quality opponents, so hopefully this will end up being a very good weekend for us when we look back on it at the end of the season.”
The Havre High tennis teams will be back in action Friday morning when the Ponies travel to the Class AA Helena Invitational.
Championship - Matt Harris, WF def. Isaac Opatz, WF, 10-3; Semifinals - Opatz, WF def. Todd Roe, HAV, 10-8; Harris, WF def. Brett Cline, CB, 10-2; Quarterfinals - Harris, WF def. Shane Kemmer, HAV, 6-1; Cline, CB def. Scott Miller, HAV, 6-3; Roe, HAV def. Brandon Hemseth, LEW, 6-1; Opatz, WF def. Billy Wagner, HAV, 6-3.
Other HHS Results - Kemmer, HAV def. Cameron McCleery, LEW, 6-2; Miller, HAV def. Thad Zempel, CON, 6-2; Roe def. Jordan Cobb, CON, 6-4; Wagner, HAV def. McCleery, LEW, 6-2; Miller, HAV def. Cobb, 6-0; Kemmer, HAV def. Josh Paulson, CB, 6-0; Wagner, HAV def. Hemseth, LEW, 6-3; Kemmer, HAV def. Miller, HAV, 6-4.
Championship - Stephen Gruener/Matt Gruener, LEW def. Scott Rottinbiller, Kyle Jacobsen, WF, 10-8; Semifinals - Rottinbiller/Jacobsen, WF def. John Christian/Chase Castloo, HAV, 10-1; Gruener/Gruener, LEW def. Jeff Larson/Steven Paulson, CB, 10-3; Quarterfinals - Castloo/Christian, HAV def. Justin Hartford/Patric Palkens, LEW, 6-0; Rottinbiller/Jacobsen, WF def. Andy Springer/Dustin Vanden Bos, CON, 6-0; Larson/Paulson, CB def. Ryan Kinholt/David Zentmire, HAV, 6-1; Gruener/Gruener, LEW def. Brendon Viscomi/Scott Johnston, WF, 6-3.
Other HHS Results - Viscomi/Johnston, WF def. Jordan Croft/Mason Sheppard, HAV, 6-3; Kinholt/Zentmire, HAV def. Matt Whelchel/Cody Pyette, CB, 6-2; Croft/Sheppard, HAV def. Hartford/Palkens, LEW, 6-3; Viscomi/Johnston, WF def. Kinholt/Zentmire, HAV, 6-3; Croft/Sheppard, HAV def. Springer/Vanden Bos, CON, 6-1.
Championship - Danni Paulson, WF def. Katie Mariani, HAV, 10-0; Semifinals - Paulson, WF def. Haley McLain, HAV, 10-0; Mariani, HAV def. Amber Kiel, CON, 10-6; Quarterfinals - Paulson, WF def. JoAnna LaSorte, C/J-I, 6-0; McLain, HAV def. Ashley Martin, C/J-I, 6-1; Kiel, CON def. Hope Hedges, HAV, 6-1; Mariani, HAV def. Brielle Menagazzi, WF, 6-1.
Other HHS Results - McLain, HAV def. Abby Knab, LEW, 6-1; Hedges, HAV def. Ashley Boettger, LEW, 6-3; Hedges, HAV def. Reis, CON, 6-3; Menegazzi, WF, 6-5 (7-5).
Championship - Keelie Solomon/Steph Flatau, HAV def. Melanie Rice/Leah Gregg, CB, 10-6; Semifinals - Flatau/Solomon, HAV def. Mary DeVries/Amanda Violett, C/J-I, 10-7; Rice/Gregg, CB def. Emily Gordon/Brianne Schwomeyer, LEW, 10-4; Quarterfinals - Flatau/Solomon, HAV def. Sabryna Martin/Molly Lauterbach, WF, 6-1; Violett/DeVries, C/J-I def. Danni Johnson/Laura Gregg, CB, 6-3; Rice/Gregg, CB def. Kyla Roy/Maressa Johnson, WF, 6-2; Gordon/Schwomeyer, LEW def. Kari Gorder/Kristi Hollingshead, HAV, 6-5 (7-5).
Other HHS Results - Rice/Gregg, CB def. Alexa Lipp/Karissa Olson, HAV, 6-4; Gorder/Hollingshead, HAV def. Stuart/Johns, CON, 6-5 (7-2); Gorder/Hollingshead, HAV def. Martin/Lauterbach, WF, 6-1; Lipp/Olson, HAV def. Johnson/Gregg, CB, 6-3.