By Jason Shoot
Havre tennis coach Sam Dierman says his squads "are as ready as we ever will be," and they will have a chance to prove it when the Central A Divisionals come to the Elks Park tennis courts Friday and Saturday.
Dierman said his boys team is the favorite in this tournament.
"If the guys play up to their capabilities, they should win the divisional and should be close to the top three in the state," Dierman said.
The boys consist of just one senior and two juniors and are a little shorthanded after it was discovered Tyler Vincent has a shortage of platelets in his bloodstream and cannot participate.
"If (the platelet count) is low, then it's a serious problem," Dierman said. "I don't know if it's his spleen or not, but he can't participate in any sport. It's sort of weird how it happened two weeks before divisionals."
Despite playing without a full roster, Dierman expects his team to step up to the challenge.
"They know the importance of this time of year," he said. "And a lot of old graduates have been around this week to help."
He said Lewistown will provide his team with some stiff competition, but added, "If we do the things we're capable of doing, we'll get first."
The Havre girls also feature a young, inexperienced team, and Dierman is shooting for a second-place finish overall behind the favored Park Rangers.
"Livingston is the defending state champion, and they're still loaded," Dierman said of Park. "They'll be tough to beat at state unless they fall apart."
Dierman, like he has many times this season, will turn to seniors Samantha Velk, Nikki Baltrusch and Breyon Briese to provide leadership and steadiness to the young players in the program.
"One of the big things is that they have to help the younger girls who haven't been through divisionals," Dierman said. "They have to be there for support. But they've been there all year."
The girls also need to play high levels of tennis consistently, Dierman said, if they expect to perform well in the tournament.
"They've been up and down all year one will play good and another not so good," Dierman said. "Crystal Pyrak, Sam Shrauger and Laura Hedstrom are our 2-3-4 singles players, and they have to come out and play consistent tennis all weekend.
"They've shown at times of being extremely good singles players. We need that this weekend."