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HHS tennis teams headed to a new meet

Ponies travel to Mayfair Invite instead of Helena for the first time in more than 30 years

 

Colin Thompson

Havre High freshman Trenton Maloughney hits a forehand during the Havre Invitational earlier this month. The Blue Pony tennis teams are headed to Billings this weekend, after the Helena Invite, a meet the Ponies traveled to for more than 30 years, was done away with.

The Havre High tennis teams are officially into the home stretch. And while this weekend will be a big one for the Blue Ponies, it will also be a new one.

The first weekend of May was always reserved for the prestigious Helena Invitational, a tournament that featured every Class AA school as well as the Class A Ponies. However, that tournament ceased to exist this season, so the Ponies will head south to Billings instead, where they’ll play in the Mayfair Invitational, hosted by Billings Central. And while HHS head coach George Ferguson said his teams will miss Helena, they’re excited about going to Billings, too.

“Helena was an amazing tournament, it was very exciting for our kids,” Ferguson said. “It’s a tournament where you would see the best competition in the state, and we always said, if you can do well in Helena, you’re going to have a chance to do very well in the postseason. So, it’s disappointing that it isn’t being played anymore.

“On the other hand, we’re very excited about the Mayfair and very grateful to Billings Central for getting us in on short notice,” he continued. “This tournament will be a dual format, so our kids will get five matches in two days, just like last week in Glendive, and right now, the more tennis we play, the better.”

Indeed. With the Central A tournament a mere two weeks away, Ferguson’s teams are trying to peak, and duals against Glendive, Billings Central, Hardin, Cody, Wyoming and Central A rival Belgrade, should help his teams do that this weekend.

“Our kids are grinding, they’re doing everything they can to just keep moving forward, to keep improving,” Ferguson said. “They’re working really hard, and we’re pushing them hard. Practice is pretty intense right now, but there’s also no substitute for real matches, and that’s why this weekend is huge for us. Our kids are going to get multiple opportunities to get better, and hopefully, we take advantage of it.”

Ferguson said the Havre boys should be close to full strength for the first time in weeks, which means he can get a better look at where his teams stand with divisional so close. Tommy Brown has been Havre’s catalyst all season long, and a return to playing with partner Tyrel Kjersem this weekend will certainly bolster Havre’s dual lineup.

“Tommy has been amazing all season long,” Ferguson said. “He’s playing the best tennis of his life, whether it’s been in singles, or doubles with Tyrel. He’s just been really good, and he’s going to be even better by the time we get to divisionals. He’s also been an outstanding leader for us this season. He’s doing exactly what he set out to do, and that's have a great senior year.”

Havre’s lineup also includes sophomore Josh Warp, who’s been strong all year in singles, as well as the top doubles tandem of Reese Bulkley and Jake Huston. Josiah Harrison and Jack Johnsrud is another doubles team to watch, while freshman Trenton Maloughney has had an immediate impact on the HHS lineup, both in singles and doubles.

“It’s interesting, our boys lineup has been fluid all season long,” Ferguson said. “That’s what happens when you have a young team like we do. But the boys have played well, and while our divisional lineup is nowhere near set, because we still have our final varsity qualifying to do, our boys team is strong and we’ve started to build a lot of depth, and that’s exciting.”

Havre’s girls lineup has been much less fluid this year, thanks to so many seniors. This weekend, however, State Music Festival will mean some changes to the Pony roster. Still, Havre will be led by senior single standout McKenzie Tommerup, as well as the doubles teams of Marcee Murphy and Devyn Solomon and Teagan Fee and Tiffany Ralph. Cassidy Acor and Kassidy Compton will team up in doubles this week, while sophomores Tamera O’Leary and Sylvia Wilting will be joined by senior Brynn Nault in singles.

“Our girls have been so tough this year,” Ferguson said. “I can’t say enough about them. They’re playing really well right now. McKenzie Tommerup is someone who has come a long way. She was our No. 4 singles last year, and now she’s our top singles player, and she’s doing great. So are all of our doubles teams. Marcee and Devyn, Teagan and Tiff, and Kadyn and Cassidy, they’re so strong. And as long as they keep pushing forward, keep getting better every day, every match, I still think the sky is the limit for the girls.”

Pushing forward is what it’s all about for the Ponies right now, too. And while Ferguson would like to see both Havre teams win matches and duals this weekend in Billings, he wants to see things that he says are more important right now.

“I want to see us play as clean as tennis as we possibly can,” Ferguson said. “We need to strive for that right now. And I want to see us take the next step with our mental toughness. Our kids’ effort is always really good, but we need to keep getting stronger mentally. We need to handle adversity better, and we need to handle the pressure and stresses of tennis this time of year. Those are the things I’m looking for out of our kids this weekend because divisional is so close now.

“We’re running out of opportunities to get better in the heat of battle,” he continued. “So our kids need to seize the opportunity this weekend in Billings, and I believe they will.”

Havre will play five matches between Friday and Saturday in Billings. The Ponies will then close out the regular season at next Saturday’s Lewistown Invitational.

 

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