By playing indoors last weekend in Cut Bank, the Havre High boys and girls tennis teams already got a big jump on much of the state’s competition. And having beaten the weather odds once this weekend, the Blue Ponies will try and do it again on Saturday, this time in Conrad.
Weather permitting, the Blue Ponies will be in Conrad for the Conrad Invitational Saturday. The Conrad Invite will be a dual tournament this year, with the Ponies facing Cut bank, Conrad and Lewistown. In duals, there are four singles matches and three doubles matches, and with HHS scheduled to compete three times, veteran head coach George Ferguson said getting to play this weekend would be essential to his team’s progress.
“Like last week, it’s not about wins and losses right,” Ferguson said. “But it would be great if we could get Saturday in because all of our players are guaranteed three matches, and that goes along way towards our improvement and also towards just getting our younger players more match-time experience. So obviously, we’re hoping the weather gives us a break because this weekend would be great for our team, no matter the results.”
Last weekend, the Ponies played modified duals in Cut Bank and despite mixed results score-wise, Ferguson was pleased with what he saw from both his teams. This week, HHS wrapped up varsity qualifying after it was delayed by weather last week, so Havre would take a full lineup to Conrad. Several Ponies also missed last weekend due to other obligations, so playing in Conrad would also be the start to several of Ferguson’s key players’ season.
“I was really encouraged by how we played as a team last weekend in Cut Bank,” Ferguson said. “Especially, the younger kids. We took seven kids who had never played a tennis match before and they all did a really nice job. And our veteran kids used it to start getting the rust off the long layoff of not playing tennis. So it was a good start. And this weekend, if we can play, we’ll be looking for more of the same, but we also want the kids to take it up a notch. Learn more and just improve on what they did a week ago. That’s what we need to get out of this weekend.”
Havre’s boys lineup is set for this week, although the Ponies will be without junior Blaine Grisak for a second straight weekend, as well as sophomore Danny Roe, who is out with an injury. In singles, HHS will go with juniors Justin Jensen and Brayden Grimson, both of whom went unbeaten last week, as well as freshman Ned Malone and sophomore Jacob Holden. In doubles, seniors Zach Cichosz and Keenan Dolezal man the No. 1 spot, while sophomore Trey Brown and junior Simon McCann team up at No. 2. William Wagner and Nick Rhines will play No. 3 doubles.
On the girls side, senior Christina Mack is back for the Ponies at No. 1 singles after missing last weekend. Fellow Seniors Danielle Faechner and Teresa Buerkle and sophomore Lainey Chagnon round out the HHS singles lineup. In doubles, sophomores Jennifer Cichosz and Jade McCormick are No.1, after going 1-1 last weekend. Monique Wilson and Kirsten Keller team up at No. 2 and freshmen Breck Don and Ellery Bressler will man the No. 3 spot.
“We have accomplished a lot this week in practice,” Ferguson said. “With finishing our challenge tournament, essentially, the kids played a lot of matches and points this week and that will better prepare them for what we’ll see this weekend. Again, just playing is the crucial thing. Time is going by fast and the more we get to be out on the court, the more chances we have to improve. Hopefully we get that chance on Saturday.”
Havre will dual Cut Bank at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by a dual with Lewistown at 11:30 and Conrad at 3 p.m. All of the action takes place at the high school courts in Conrad. The Pony girls have a busy week ahead as well, as they also take on defending Class B-C state champion Chinook at 4 p.m. on Monday at the Bill Vaughey Memorial Courts in Havre.