The Havre High boys and girls tennis teams have played some hot tennis this week in Great Falls. And while the weather looks like it’s cooling back down, the Ponies don’t want to cool off with two more days in the Electric City yet to come.
Weather permitting, HHS will be in Great Falls today and Saturday for the Great Falls Invitational. The tournament is a dual format, and the Ponies will get four matches over a two-day period.
“We played a ton of tennis on Tuesday, and against some very good opponents,” HHS head coach George Ferguson said. “And with the four teams we’re scheduled to play this weekend, hopefully we’ll build on it. This is the time of the year when we want to start the climb towards peaking. We’ve achieved a lot already, but the process of improving never stops, and with the schedule we have this weekend, we should get a lot better.”
Today, HHS is slated to face the Class AA Bozeman Hawks and the Billings Senior Broncs. On Saturday, the Ponies are set to face Billings West, as well as Class B-C rival Cut Bank.
“All four teams will help us improve,” Ferguson said. “Without knowing who their players even are, I know that Bozeman will be as good as it gets. They are very well coached and both their boys and girls program’s have been powerhouses for years. It’s a great opportunity to play them this weekend. Both Billings schools will be strong too. Billings is an area where tennis is really back on the rise, and there are great players at every school down there. Cut Bank we’ve seen a lot of this season, but it’s always a challenge to play them and it will be again this weekend.
“Playing CMR and Great Falls High on Tuesday was really good for us,” Ferguson added. “And if the weather cooperates, it will be the same this weekend. I always stress how it’s all about how we play right now, not what the scores are. I thought that was really evident on Tuesday because we played really, really well, even in some tough losses. You could just see our kids getting better and we want the exact same thing this weekend.”
Havre’s top singles player, Justin Jensen will have his work cut out for him this weekend, as will No. 2 Brayden Grimson. Typically, boys singles in Class AA is as good as it gets. The Ponies’ depth in singles should be a factor however, with Ned Malone and Bill Wagner both playing well. Havre will take four doubles teams, with Simon McCann and Blaine Grisak manning the No. 1 spot, Nick Rhines and Zach Hellegaard at No. 2, J.J. Hovet and Brian Smith at No. 3 and Jacob Holden and Noah Landgraf at No. 4.
“Our boys team is on the rise right now,” Ferguson said. “All 12 guys we are taking are starting to play very well and now they need to keep their foot on the gas and take an even bigger step forward. And this next two weeks is the time to do it.
“The competition will also be fierce for our girls and they are a little younger and less experienced,” Ferguson said. “And that’s why these matches are so big for them. In Great Falls on Tuesday, a lot of our girls really realized they can play tennis at this level. When they are playing well against really good players, they can see just how much they’ve improved. So this weekend will be another great experience for them.”
Brandy Lambourne and Lainey Chagnon will man the top two singles spots for Havre, while Shannon Herring and Tatiana Ralph will play No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Like the boys, Class AA in girls singles is loaded with high-caliber players so the Pony girls will have some stiff challenges. Havre’s top doubles duo of Jenn Cichosz and Jade McCormick will also be challenged by the AA teams, while sophomores Breck Don, Ellery Bresler, Morgan Jappe and Haley Graham give Havre strong depth in doubles. The No. 4 team this weekend will be Megan Passon and Jordy Warren.
“Being No. 1 or No. 2 this time of year is tough,” Ferguson said. “The opponents are at a very high level. So Brandy, Lainey, Jade and Jenn have their work cut out for them. But those four are all very competitive and they relish those challenges. And they all know they will get better from this experience.
“The big thing is, just hoping we get to play,” Ferguson added. “This weekend has been cursed for us. We haven’t been to this tournament since 2007 and it’s a really good tournament. These matches will be so good for our kids so hopefully the forecast improves and we get these in. Because this a lot of fun for our kids to play these teams and they have worked hard and deserve that opportunity.
The Blue Ponies are scheduled to play Bozeman this morning and Senior today at 4 p.m. On Saturday, HHS is set to face Billings West at 10 a.m. and Cut Bank at 2 p.m. Locations for matches include, CMR High School, Meadowlark Country Club and the Elks Riverside Courts.