By Kent Dolezal
Coming off a divisional tournament where the Havre boys tennis team set a new team record of 52 points on its way to the Central A title, the Blue Ponies enter the Class A state tournament in Miles City Friday and Saturday with high goals in mind.
Havre coach Sam Dierman sees the boys with having a chance at the state title. With eight players advancing, Havre has the largest contingent of players at this weekends event.
The girls squad, despite having only three combatants making it to state, will also have an outside chance at bringing home some state hardware.
Kellen Malone has a good chance to place in the top three this year, Dierman said. Malone, Havres top boys singles player, should advance to the semifinals where anything can happen, Dierman said.
The No. 1 doubles team of Nick Heninger and Eli Sethre also has a good shot at moving to the semifinals, he said.
Dierman said that Havres success as a team in the boys competition will depend on its other players. The Blue Ponies will have doubles teams of Seth Maristuen and Michael Frey and Chris Dorcheus and Robby Gaskill in attendance. Singles player Bryan Frey will also be in action for the Ponies. The amount of points these players generate will be critical to Havres team total, he said.
It is really wide open, Dierman said. No team looks like a real power. At this time of year, a lot of kids are playing just wanting to make it to state. With our kids the biggest goal, with boys, has been to place at state.
Dierman said his boys team has been focused on the state title since last summer. He believes that his team is focussed and properly motivated to challenge for that goal.
Teri Sherrill, the No. 1 girls singles player for the Blue Ponies, is another contender for the semifinals, he said. I have a lot of confidence in Teri, he said. She is playing her best tennis right now.
The doubles team of Shannon Brantley and Kirsten Kuka will have a tough match to open the tournament with the top team from the Western A. Dierman said, despite placing fourth at the Central A, Brantley and Kuka were playing in the strongest division in girls doubles with the girls teams from Livingston being unbelievably strong.
He stated that if Brantley and Kuka get past their opening-round match, they have the potential to move into the semifinals.
The three girls that worked the hardest last summer are the ones that are going to state, he said. That is a message to the younger kids. You work hard, good things happen to you.
Dierman said that Miles City, Glendive and Bigfork are also strong contenders in the boys tournament. Corvallis and Stevensville have outside chances, he said.
In the girls event, Park High of Livingston is the favorite, he said. Bigfork, Stevensville, Glendive and Hamilton all have outside chances.
Dierman said that if the girls play their best tennis they have a legitimate chance to sneak out with something.
The Blue Ponies have had a fantastic season to this point. Besides a new team record at divisionals, Sherrill is only the second girl from Havre to win the divisional singles title. The team also won three of the four classifications at the Central A meet, with the team of Heninger and Sethre joining Malone and Sherrill on top of the winners podium last weekend in the Livingston.
I really think this may be a weekend where our conditioning pays off, Dierman said. When it is 80 some degrees, you get to that second day or late in the first there are going to be some tired kids out there.