May 20, 2013 |

Pony netters score big at Central A

Havre High boys capture another Central A crown; Ponies taking eight players to Class A state meet

A year ago, the Havre High boys and girls tennis teams took just four total players to the Class A state tournament. Fast forward one year, and the Blue Ponies doubled that total following a highly successful Central A Divisional tournament.

From Thursday afternoon to Saturday evening the Ponies battled the elements and tough teams from Lewistown, Livingston and Anaconda as well as having to move the tournament from Lewistown to Great Falls Saturday in the 2013 Central A meet.

The Havre boys successfully defended the Central A title by scoring 41 points to edge Lewistown by nine points, while the Havre girls scored 36 points and posted a solid second-place finish. Individually, freshman Jeff Miller captured the Central A boys singles title, while the senior duo of Nick Rhines and J.J. Hovet placed second in doubles. Havre’s top duo of Lainey Chagnon and Jennifer Cichosz reached the girls doubles final and placed second while Breck Don and Ellery Bresler placed third and Brandy Lambourne placed third in singles.

“What a weekend,” Havre head coach George Ferguson said. “All 20 of our kids played amazing tennis. They played the best they’ve played all season at one point or another. What we did in the team scores, it was a contribution of everybody, and that makes me so proud. It feels really good knowing all of our kids did so well and I’m so proud of all of them.

“It was an intense three days,” he added, “but our kids were up to all the challenges we faced. They were mentally very tough. We had to get through weather delays, moving the tournament to Great Falls. We had dramatic comebacks all weekend long. It was just amazing. It couldn’t have gone much better than it did for us.”

The Pony boys captured their fourth straight Central A crown and their ninth in Ferguson’s 10 years as head coach. And it wasn’t easy. Havre was just two points ahead of Lewistown heading into the final day of competition. But Miller sealed Havre’s win with a 6-4, 7-6 win over the Eagles’ Andrew Bruno in the championship match. Miller had to battle in the semifinals as well, beating Livingston senior Aiden Goodman, but in the end, he reached a major goal, becoming just the third HHS freshman to win a Central A championship.

“Jeff has high goals and high expectations for himself,” Ferguson said. “And he’s also had a target on his back all season long because a lot of these kids knew who he was before he got to high school. So for him to get through this divisional tournament, and not let himself stumble, I’m very impressed. It’s a big accomplishment for a freshman to win this tournament, and one that shouldn’t be understated. It’s really a very special accomplishment and one he should be very proud of.”

Rhines and Hovet also battled their way into their first state tournament. They had to survive a three-set match in the quarterfinals, then take out a team from Anaconda they lost to just a week earlier to reach the doubles title match. In that match, against Anaconda’s Geoff Dierenfeldt and Eric Van Meel, the Havre duo split sets before falling in the decisive third.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Nick and J.J.,” Ferguson said. “The goal was to get to state, but they gave themselves a chance to win the tournament. They were so determined. They played so well. They were so mentally tough. And they have nothing to be disappointed about. I’m so happy for them because they went out and earned it this weekend.”

In all, all 10 of Havre’s boys contributed to the team title. Junior Ned Malone tied for fifth and came up just one match short of reaching the state tournament. Along the way, Malone had to beat teammate Zach Hellegaard in a tough match, so those two combined to score big points for the Ponies. Hellegaard, who plays No. 3 for HHS, knocked off Anaconda’s top singles player in the first round, and those two points were crucial. The doubles duos of Brian Smith and Noah Landgraf and Jerod Boles and Wyatt Lindbloom combined to score six points for Havre as well. Both teams scored a big win, as did senior Jacob Holden, who won a tough loser-out match to add to Havre’s point total, in a tournament where the Ponies needed them all to triumph.

“I really think both Ned and Zach were more than good enough to get through to state,” Ferguson said. “And our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, same thing. But the draws don’t always go your way and those kids lost some tough, close matches that could have easily gone the other way.

“That’s the bitter-sweet part of divisionals because while you’re so happyas a team, individually, you have kids whose season ends in heartbreak. That’s the tough part,” Ferguson said. “But all of those kids played great tennis. I’m proud of every single one of them. They all were a big reason why we’re divisional champions. From where we started the season, to where we ended up Saturday, it’s amazing. I am just so happy for this boys team. They worked so hard. We pushed them to get better this season and their hard work and dedication paid off. It was a very special weekend for those 10 boys. And I’m proud of all of them.”

Pride was certainly a word Ferguson would use to describe his girls team this weekend as well. In the end, HHS couldn’t catch Livingston, but the tournament was much closer than the final scores indicated.

“Our girls team did everything they could do,” Ferguson said. “We had one or two matches in the draw not go our way. But I can’t say enough about the way our girls played. They did everything we asked of them this weekend. They put their hearts into this tournament, they played the best tennis of their lives, and I couldn’t be prouder of where we finished. Those girls were just awesome.”

As expected, Havre made up ground in doubles with its three veteran teams. Chagnon and

Cichosz scored a dramatic comeback win against Lewistown in the semifinals before falling to the top duo from Livingston. The senior tandem trailed Monger and Nielsen of Lewistown one set and a 4-1 in the second set before coming all the way back to win in the third. Meanwhile, Don and Bresler won a three-setter over Anaconda’s top team in the quarterfinals before suffering a heartbreaking third-set tiebreaker loss to the eventual champion from Livingston in the semifinals. However, Havre’s No. 2 duo rebounded to beat a tough Livingston squad to reach the

state tournament, then scored an impressive win over the Lewistown tandem to finish an impressive third. And for good measure, the junior duo of Haley Graham and Morgan Jappe not only won a first-round match, but wound up scoring five total points for the Ponies and came within one win of having a chance to reach state as well.

“This was the plan all along,” Ferguson said. “To have three string doubles like we do, that’s huge. And I’m just so proud of all those girls. We were 0-9 between our three doubles teams against Monger and Nielsen this year. And the first thing that happens is, Haley and Morgan go out and take a set off them in the quarterfinals. Then Lainey and Jennifer have one of the most amazing comebacks I’ve ever seen and beat them in the semifinals. Then Breck and Ellery have to come back from such a tough loss to Livingston and beat two really good teams in a row. What those girls did this weekend left me almost speechless, and that never happens to me. The comebacks, the determination, the heart those kids showed, it’s so amazing. I’m just so happy for them and so proud of them. I could go on talking about them all day long.”

Havre’s girls singles contingent was strong too. Lambourne lost in the semifinals to Lewistown rival Jeanna Mane, but showed plenty of toughness by dominating her next to opponents to place third for the second year in a row. Shannon Herring and Tatiana Ralph added four points to Havre’s total, with Ralph beating out Herring in a loser-out match. And freshman Rainey Stoner gained plenty of experience in her two matches.

“I’m really proud of Brandy,” Ferguson said. “She had one bad match, at a bad time, and she was crushed after that loss. But she is so competitive. She is such a tough kid, and she came right back and made sure she took care of business after that loss in the semifinals. That’s the kind of stuff great players do and Brandy is a great player. And I was really excited about the way all of our girls singles players played. Again, we ran into a situation where Shannon and Tati had to play each other, and that was unfortunate because I think both of them were good enough to go further. But all four of those girls should be very proud of what they achieved, and they did great things to help our team. And, as a team, our girls were great. This was a great divisional tournament for all of them and they should be really proud, and I’m very proud of all of them.”

Now Havre will get a chance for more Pony pride as all eight qualifiers advance to the Class A state tournament, which runs Thursday-Friday in Polson and Ronan.

“I really haven’t started thinking much about state yet,” Ferguson said. “I still can’t get over how great all of our kids were this weekend. They really represented our school and our program so well. What we did at divisionals was remarkable. And it just goes to show how hard work, dedication and never giving up can pay off. I just am very proud of all 20 kids we took down there. It was an intense, special weekend of tennis for us, and it’s a divisional tournament I won’t ever forget.”

2013 Central A Tennis

BOYS

Team Scores

Havre 41, Lewistown 32, Livingston, 28, Anaconda 22

Individual Havre Results

Singles

Jeff Miller (1st Place)

1st rd – def/ Alex Swanson, LIV, 6-0, 6-0; Quarterfinals – def. Carson Boynton, ANA, 6-2, 6-0; Semifinals – def. Aiden Goodman, LIV, 7-5, 6-0; Championship – def. Andrew Bruno, LEW, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Ned Malone

1st rd – def. Austin Leher, LIV, 6-2, 6-1; Quarterfinals – lost to Bruno, LEW, 6-3, 6-3; 2nd rd Consolation – def. Parker Phillips, LEW, 6-0, 6-0; Consolation Quarterfinals – def. Zach Hellegaard, HAV, 6-2, 6-4; Consolation Semifinals – lost to Goodman, LIV, 6-4, 6-2.

Zach Hellegaard

1st rd – def. Eli Van Meel, ANA, 6-0, 6-2; Quarterfinals – lost to John Potenberg, LIV, 6-1, 6-0; Consolation 2nd rd – def. Leher, LIV, 6-3, 6-2; Consolation Quarterfinals – lost to Malone, HAV, 6-2, 6-4.

Jacob Holden

1st rd – lost to Goodman, LIV, 6-0, 6-0; Consolation 1st rd – def. Collin Stetzner, ANA, 6-3, 6-2; Consolation 2nd rd – lost to Boynton, ANA, 6-2, 6-3.

DOUBLES

Nick Rhines/J.J. Hovet (2nd Place)

1st rd – BYE; Quarterfinals – def. Gannon/Newhouse, LIV, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; Semifinals – def. Stanberry/Wagner, ANA, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5); Championship – lost to Dierenfeldt/Van Meel, ANA, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Noah Landgraf/Brian Smith

1st rd – def. Molina/Noble, LIV, 6-1, 6-1; Quarterfinals – lost to Butcher/Songer, LEW, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5; Consolation 2nd rd – lost to Armour/Petersen, LEW, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4).

Jerod Boles/Wyatt Lindbloom

1st rd – lost to Hould/Behl, LEW, 6-4, 6-2; Consolation 1st rd – BYE; Consolation 2nd rd – def. Gannon/Newhouse, LIV, 6-4, 6-1; Consolation Quarterfinals – lost to Hould/Behl, LEW, 7-5, 6-2.

GIRLS

Team Scores

Livingston 51, Havre 36, Lewistown 17, Anaconda 6

SINGLES

Brandy Lambourne (3rd Place)

1st rd – def. Kaycee Gobble, LEW, 6-0, 6-1; Quarterfinals – def. Sonia McClain, LIV, 6-0, 6-2; Semifinals – lost to Jeanna Mane, LEW, 6-2, 6-0; Consolation Semifinals – def. Teegan Lane, LIV, 6-3, 6-1; Consolation Final – def. Ashley Johnson, ANA, 6-0, 6-0.

Shannon Herring

1st rd – lost to Lane, LIV, 7-5, 7-5; Consolation 1st rd – def. Beth Olson, LEW, 6-4, 6-1; Consolation 2nd rd – lost to Tatiana Ralph, HAV, 6-3, 6-2.

Tatiana Ralph

1st rd – def. Hannah Thomas, LEW, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0; Quarterfinals – lost to Macy Ricketts, LIV, 6-0, 6-0; Consolation 2nd rd – def. Herring, HAV, 6-4, 6-1; Consolation Quarterfinals – lost to Lane, LIV, 7-5, 6-4.

Rainey Stoner

1st rd – lost to Mane, LEW, 6-0, 6-0; Consolation 1st rd – lost to Destiny Strutzel, ANA, 6-1, 6-1.

DOUBLES

Jennifer Cichosz/Lainey Chagnon (2nd Place)

1st rd – BYE; Quarterfinals – def. Woods/Dobrowski, LIV, 6-4, 6-1; Semifinals – def. Monger/Nielsen, LEW, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3; Championship – lost to Kelly/Ellingson, 6-2, 6-4.

Breck Don/Ellery Bresler (3rd Place)

1st rd – def. Lane/Phipps, LIV, 6-1, 7-5; Quarterfinals – def. Van Meel/Salle, ANA, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0; Semifinals – lost to Kelly/Ellingson, LIV, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5); Consolation Semifinals – def. Woods/Dobrowski, LIV, 6-3, 7-5; Consolation Final – def. Monger/Nielsen, LEW, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Haley Graham/Morgan Jappe

1st rd – def. Grisvold/Riddle, ANA, 6-4, 6-2; Quarterfinals – lost to Monger/Nielsen, LEW, 5-7, 6-0, 6-3; Consolation 2nd rd – def. Allen/Backer, LEW, 6-1, 6-3; Consolation Quarterfinals – lost to Woods/Dobrowski, 6-0, 6-2.

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