Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter certainly made a strong comeback this week on the Hi-Line. And it wreaked havoc with spring sports all around the area. Still, with barely any official practice time this week, the Havre High boys and girls tennis teams will travel to Conrad Saturday for the Conrad Invitational. The Conrad invite is a dual format which features the same three opponents HHS faced last weekend when the Ponies went a perfect 6-0 in duals at the season-opening Cut Bank Invitational. “It’s the same teams, but it will certainly be different,” Havre High head coach George Ferguson said. “All three teams we faced last weekend were missing a few kids, and now we are, so this weekend is almost like starting over for us.” HHS will have the same boys’ team it took to Cut Bank last weekend. In singles, freshman Kyle Miller had a strong debut for the Ponies, going 3-0. Sophomore Mason Sheppard was also perfect on the day. The Ponies did have some struggles in doubles last weekend, but Ferguson was pleased with how his team performed overall. “You’re always going to be rusty the first weekend,” Ferguson said. “So you can’t put a lot of stock in wins and losses. I looked at how we played in all the matches, and in that respect, I was very happy. Unfortunately, the weather has set us back a full week now, so we’ll just have to see how it goes this weekend.” On the girls side, the Ponies are also coming off a perfect opening weekend in Cut Bank. However, like the boys’ team, the HHS girls have seen almost no time on the tennis court this week, and now the Ponies will be without the services of veteran Haley McLain, who is gone for other obligations. The Ponies will go with Central A champion Katie Mariani at No. 1 singles, and freshman Courtney Kinholt will play up at least one spot in McLain’s absence this weekend. After that, Ferguson is still experimenting with different combinations. “Because of how young our girls team is, it will take a while to figure out who fits best where,” he said. “That’s what this first three weeks is about. Getting these kids valuable experience and as coaches, we use these duals as a measuring stick for coming up with the best team we can put on the court. “But I was really encouraged after last weekend,” he added. “We have some promising young talent out there to go along with Katie, Hope (Hedges), Haley and Christen (Kittelson).” Indeed, Ferguson already likes what he sees in Kinholt as a singles player, as well as the emergence of freshmen Haley Donovan, Morgan McCann and Jolee Landgraf in doubles. But no matter who is on the court for the Ponies this weekend, Ferguson says that just playing tennis will be a big plus for his team. “We’re crossing our fingers that the weather is good on Saturday,” he said. “It’s tough to go hard for three straight weeks, get up for our first tournament and then literally have to shut it down like what has happened this week. I think it’s just as tough on the kids mentally as it is skill-wise. So we really need the weather to hold out so we can just get back to playing tennis again.” At the Conrad Invitational, the Blue Ponies will dual Lewistown, Cut Bank and Conrad in that order. Havre will play its first tournament next weekend when the Ponies host the Havre Invitational.