Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Today will be a quick turnaround for the Havre High tennis teams, and the competition won’t get any easier. Just two days removed form competing at the prestigious Helena Invitational, the Blue Pony netters will be back on the courts this afternoon in Great Falls, as the Ponies will dual CMR and Great Falls High. HHS comes into the duals fresh off a tough but successful Helena invite in which the Ponies had several players and doubles teams make a deep run in the tournament. No. 1 girls singles player Katie Mariani reached the consolation semifinals before bowing out of the tournament on Saturday, as did the Ponies’ No. 1 boys doubles team of Todd Roe and Billy Wagner, and No. 3 singles player Mason Sheppard. “We’re playing pretty well right now,” HHS head coach George Ferguson said. “We had some nice results in Helena, and the best thing is we improved over the weekend even though we were up against the strongest competition we have seen this season.” Today, the Ponies will look to take another step forward when they face the CMR Rustlers and GFH Bison at the CMR Tennis Courts in Great Falls. The HHS boys have swept the Rustlers and Bison each of the last two seasons, while the HHS girls have a two-year winning streak against the Bison. However, things are different in 2007, especially for the Blue Pony girls, who lost seven seniors off their 2006 Class A state championship team. “Having so many new kids has been interesting on the girls side,” Ferguson said. “We have a lot of potential, and this year has been about just working with them and molding them into tennis players who can compete at this level. And so far, things have been very positive. I really like what our girls team has done so far.” Still, the Ponies will have their hands full today, especially against GFH. The Bison possess two of the top singles players in the Eastern AA in freshman Ellie Crum and sophomore Sam Selstad. CMR is a little less experienced as graduation hit the Rustlers hard last year too. The HHS girls lineup today will feature Mariani and Haley McLain at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. After that, Ferguson will experiment with his lineups, moving around veteran players Hope Hedges and Christen Kittelson. The No. 2 doubles team will be freshmen Courtney Kinholt and Haley Donovan and the No. 3 team will be Morgan McCann and Jolee Landgraf. HHS will also bring two more freshmen to Great Falls in Christina Plum and Maggie Broesder. On the boys side, the Ponies will look for a little redemption against CMR in singles. In Helena, HHS’s No. 1 singles player Shane Kemmer was beaten by CMR’s Josh Tierney, while No. 2 singles player Kyle Miller fell to Jake Skovron. Both Kemmer and Miller should get rematches today. The rest of the HHS lineup will feature Sheppard at No. 3 singles and Dan Pizzini at the No. 4 spot. Roe and Wagner will play No. 1 doubles, while David Zentmire and Ryan Kinholt will play No. 2 and Brad Hanson and Tim McLean will play No. 3. “Both duals on the boys side should be very competitive and most matches will be close,” Ferguson said. “We have a pretty strong rivalry with CMR, so this is a fun day for us. “I think our boys team is progressing at a good pace,” he added. “But it’s duals like this that we need to take advantage of, because it’s only three weeks to the divisional tournament, so the season is already winding down.” After the Ponies dual the Rustlers and Bison today in Great Falls, they will return to the Electric City on Friday and Saturday for the Great Falls Invitational.