By Jason Shoot
Following last weekend's successful showing by his boys' team at the Central A Divisionals, Havre tennis coach Sam Dierman is hoping his team will have a repeat performance this weekend at the Class A state tournament in Lewistown.
"Our goal hasn't changed we're shooting for the top three," he said. "I think that would be a pretty good accomplishment. We have a lot of young kids, but we've always seemed to play our best tennis at state."
Havre took the top three places in singles at divisionals, as well as the top two doubles, but "we could win more matches than any other school, but if they don't get first, we don't get those points."
Kellen Malone, who graduated from Havre last year, was the singles champion and earned 16 points 10 for the championship and six more for three victories en route to the title.
Cody McLain leads the Havre contingent on the singles side after winning the Central A Divisional crown. His cousin, Andrew McLain, and Daine Solomon also advanced to state after placing second and third, respectively, at divisionals.
The Ponies also benefitted from their success in doubles at divisionals.
Mike Frey and Seth Maristuen combined to beat teammates Tyler Croft and Jeremy Heninger in the doubles final, but the result was meaningless. The simple fact both pairs met in the title match was far more important.
The two doubles teams will begin the tournament on opposite sides of the bracket, and if successful, they would set up an all-Havre doubles final.
Dierman said he hoped his boys would gather 10-12 points during the first day and still stay in the championship bracket. If they accomplish that, they will be primed for a run at a high placing.
"You want to try to put yourself in position (for a title run) during the first day," Dierman said. "We were behind Lewistown at divisionals going into the second day, but we still had people (in the championship bracket). If kids are in the semis after the first day, then you have a chance of placing in the top three."
Dierman said he was pleased with his girls' team advancing three athletes to state.
"We lost a ton of girls last year, and we knew it would be tough to get anyone in," he said. "We were hoping to get in Sam (Velk) and Breyon (Briese) in doubles, and we were hoping Nikki (Baltrusch) could make it in singles."
Dierman said a lack of experience at the state-tournament level could hamper their performance.
"The three girls are seniors, but none of them have been to state," he said. "Out of seven boys, five of the seven have been to state. I have no girls who have any experience.
"I'm hoping we'll get some points at state. If the girls can get in the top 10, I'm going to be pretty happy."