The heat was on in Lewistown and the Havre High tennis teams certainly, responded – in more ways then one.
In the final four duals of the regular season, and the last chance to tune up for the upcoming Central A Divisional tennis tournament, the Blue Pony boys and girls teams went a combined 7-1 in dual action at the Lewistown Invitational Saturday afternoon.
And while the Ponies piled up plenty of team and individual victories Saturday, it was how they did it and in the conditions in which they did that had veteran head coach George Ferguson so impressed.
“It was a long, hot day, a beautiful but tough day for tennis,” Ferguson said. “And the schedule we were given was really tough. We played early in the morning and our girls team then didn’t play for almost seven straight hours. Then both our teams were on the court non-stop the final three hours and right up until dark. So the first thing I am is just very proud of all of the kids for their toughness and for their focus mentally. They didn’t let anything get in the way from going out and doing their very best in every match. I’m just really proud of all of our kids.
“And for most of the tournament, I was really pleased with how we played,” he added. “It wasn’t perfect, but tennis is never going to be. But I thought we played some of our best matches of the season and even when our kids didn’t play their best, they were still finding ways to compete and win. I think we won all but one tiebreaker the entire day and that stat right there shows just how far all of the kids have come. It was a really, really good day.”
The Havre boys put themselves in a good position heading into divisional by sweeping Livingston (4-3), Butte Central (4-3), Anaconda (5-2) and Lewistown – the final dual was called by darkness with Havre well ahead.
Individually, the senior doubles team of Brayden Grimson and Simon McCann went 4-0, playing in only their second tournament together. Playing together for only the second time all year, senior Blaine Grisak and junior Nick Rhines also went 3-1 and won critical matches against potential divisional opponents.
In singles, senior Justin Jensen went 3-1 despite not feeling well all day, while sophomore Zach Hellegaard and senior Bill Wagner went a combined 6-2.
“I thought Simon and Brayden really started to click as the day went on,” Ferguson said. “As a doubles team, we’re asking an awful lot of them because they just have barely played together. But they showed great chemistry and they got rolling as the day progressed. I think the same thing held true for Blaine and Nick.
“I also can’t say enough about the effort of Zach (Hellegaard),” Ferguson added. “He has played doubles the entire season, then moves to singles Saturday and is locked in a bunch of long, marathon matches. He played his heart out all day and it was great to watch him battle and play so well. I was really proud of him. I was proud of Justin for battling through on Saturday as well. At one point or another, all 10 boys did something good and played well, even in losses. So it was a good day for our boys team and they did exactly what we asked of them.”
The Havre girls did too.
The Ponies lost to powerful Livingston 6-1, then beat Butte Central 7-0 and Anaconda 5-2 and were leading Lewistown in the final dual before darkness ended the day. And Havre also had its lineup mixed due to junior Lainey Chagnon being gone for a family obligation, so as far as Ferguson was concerned, the day couldn’t have gone any better.
“Again, I’m just really proud of what our girls team did mentally,” he said. “The day was extremely difficult for them because of the schedule we were given. But they just kept going out there and battling and they all played well. I’m just so proud of them for that.”
With Chagnon gone, doubles partner Jennifer Cichosz moved to singles for the day and went 4-0 with one forfeit. It was a great day for Havre in singles as Brandy Lambourne went 2-2 at the tough No. 1 spot and Jade McCormick went a sparkling 3-1 at No. 2. Shannon Herring went 3-1 as well.
In doubles, Breck Don and Ellery Bresler moved up to No. 1 for the week and knocked off two No. 1 teams, including a critical win over Anaconda. The duo was also locked in a battle with the top team from Lewistown before darkness fell. Haley Graham and Morgan Jappe moved to No. 2 on Saturday and performed well, as did Tatiana Ralph and Jordy Warren (playing in her first varsity meet), at the No. 3 spot.
“I was so proud of all the girls,” Ferguson said. “Jenn (Cichosz) is not a big fan of playing singles, but I just told her to go out and enjoy it, and then she doesn’t lose a match all day. I was so happy for her. Jade did an amazing job too. She’s just now really learning to play singles and she won some big and important matches Saturday. And all three doubles teams we took really played up and played really well against tough competition. So I just couldn’t be more pleased with how our girls team did in Lewistown.”
And now that the Lewistown Invite is out of the way, the postseason is upon the HHS tennis teams. Havre will travel to Bozeman Wednesday night for Thursday and Friday’s Central A Divisional. The Pony boys are the defending champions, while the HHS girls could be a team to be reckoned with.
“We essentially have two days to get ready,” Ferguson said. “But I think our kids showed on Saturday that we’re right there. We’re really close to where we need to be. It’s divisional week now and I’m really excited.”
Havre 4, Livingston 3
Dallas Lussier, LIV def. Justin Jensen, 8-2; Ned Malone, HAV won by FFT; Zach Hellegaard, HAV def. Noble Vance, LIV, 8-2; Bill Wagner, HAV def. Josh Bigner, LIV, 8-1.
Brayden Grimson/Simon McCann, HAV def. Will Bowden/Nate Snow, LIV, 8-6; Alex Richards/Isaac Richards, LIV def. Blaine Grisak/Nick Rhines, HAV, 8-6; Gabe Kelter/Jacob Perry, LIV def. J.J. Hovet/Brian Smith, HAV, 8-2.
Havre 4, Butte Central 3
Justin Jensen, HAV def. Collin Hollow, BC, 8-3; Kale Sudseth, BC def. Ned Malone, HAV, 8-0; Zach Hellegaard, HAV def. Jack Gall, BC, 8-7 (12-10); Northy Tretheway, BC def. Bill Wagner, HAV, 8-6.
Brayden Grimson/Simon McCann, HAV def. Jim Joyce/Frank Joyce, BC, 8-4; Blaine Grisak/Nick Rhines, HAV def. Derek Ralph/Tyler Trudnowski, BC, 8-7 (7-5); Kolton Lemiuex/Kayden Peoples, BC def. J.J. Hovet/Brian Smith, HAV, 8-2.
Havre 5, Anaconda 2
Justin Jensen, HAV def. Geoff Dierenfeldt, Ana, 8-3; Craig Smith, ANA def. Ned Malone, HAV, 8-2; Eli Van Meel, ANA def. Zach Hellegaard, HAV, 8-7 (8-6); Bill Wagner, HAV def. Ian Hensely, ANA, 8-5.
Brayden Grimson/Simon McCann, HAV def. Aaron Van Mell/Dennis Stannberg, ANA, 8-4; Blaine Grisak/Nick Rhines, HAV def. Viasta Zindr/Ross Baggs, ANA, 8-7 (8-6); J.J. Hovet/Brian Smith, HAV def. Mackey Miller/Ben Schaeffer, ANA, 8-0.
Havre vs Lewistown (Called by darkness)
Havre won 3 matches, lost two and led in two
Justin Jensen, HAV def. Jordan Snapp, LEW, 8-5; Andrew Bruno, LEW def. Ned Malone, HAV, 8-3; Zach Hellegaard, HAV led Zach Hould, LEW, 6-4; Bill Wagner, HAV def. Bryan Behl, LEW, 8-3.
Brayden Grimson/Simon McCann, HAV def. Andy Butcher/Austin Songer, LEW, 8-4; Blaine Grisak/Nick Rhines, HAV led Hooper Armour/Bryce Peterson, 6-4; Preston Kynett/Alex Irish, LEW def. J.J. Hovet/Brian Smith, HAV, 8-6.
Livingston 6, Havre 1
Macy Ricketts, LIV def. Brandy Lambourne, HAV, 8-0; Dylan Balanda, LIV def. Jade McCormick, HAV, 8-2; Jennifer Cichosz, HAV def. Emily Buckner, LIV, 8-2; Sonya McLain, LIV def. Shannon Herring, HAV, 8-5.
Hailey Seymour/Sallie DeBoer, LIV def. Ellery Bresler/Breck Don, HAV, 8-4; Callie Ellington/Mary Richards, LIV def. Haley Graham/Morgan Jappe, HAV, 8-3; Mandie Keller/Courtney Dobbrowski, LIV def. Tatiana Ralph/Jordy Warren, HAV, 8-3.
Havre 7, Butte Central 0
Brandy Lambourne, HAV def. Rianne Hysell, BC, 8-1; Jade McCormick, HAV def. Jess Dennison, BC, 8-3; Jennifer Cichosz, HAV won by FFT; Shannon Herring, HAV won by FFT, won an exhibition match, 8-1 over Lew.
Ellery Bresler/Breck Don, HAV def. Diane Leary/Kacee McKeon, BC, 8-5; Haley Graham/Morgan Jappe, HAV def. Kathryn Steffman/Hannah Kline, BC< 8-6; Tatiana Raplh/Jordy Warren, HAV def. Nicki Rosswarren/Kacee LaRande, BC, 8-2.
Havre 5, Anaconda 2
Ellie Krueger, ANA def. Brandy Lambourne, HAV, 8-3; Jade McCormick, HAV def. Madison Danheuer, ANA, 8-5; Jennifer Cichosz, HAV def. Sarah Loehn, ANA, 8-5; Shannon Herring, HAV def. Layne Cook, ANA, 8-2.
Ellery Bresler/Breck Don, HAV def. Lacey Knadler/Ashley Johnson, ANA, 8-7 (7-0); Hailey Van Meel/Dallas Salle, ANA def. Haley Graham/Morgan Jappe, HAV, 8-6; Tatiana Raplh/Jordy Warren, HAV def. Emmy Keeman/Rosie Irocy, ANA, 8-7 (7-2).
Havre vs Lewistown (Called by darkness)
Havre won 4 matches, trailed in two and led in one
Brandy Lambourne, HAV def. Jeanna Mane, LEW, 8-2; Jade McCormick, HAV def. Hannah Thomas, LEW, 8-4; Jennifer Cichosz, HAV def. Kayla Olson, LEW, 8-1; Shannon Herring, HAV def. Kaycee Gobble, LEW, 8-5.
Jennifer Monger/Andrea Nielsen, LEW led Ellery Bresler/Breck Don, HAV, 5-4; Kaitlyn Kinderski/Marlee Thomas, LEW led Haley Graham/Morgan Jappe, HAV, 4-3; Tatiana Ralph/Jordy Warren, HAV led Emily Olson/Carly Ward, LEW, 5-0.