Blue Pony tennis aims to keep growing at the Conrad Invite
Last updated 4/1/2021 at 8:36am
The Havre High tennis teams couldn't have been more excited to start their season last week at the Cut Bank Invitational. And the excitement hasn't waned.
The Blue Ponies will again head west this weekend, only they'll be at Saturday's Conrad Invite, where they move from a tournament format to their first duals of the season. Havre is slated to battle Conrad, Lewistown and Cut Bank Saturday.
"Excited to get right back out there," Havre head coach George Ferguson said. "This will be a good measuring stick for how much we learned last week in Cut Bank. Kids will be playing head-to-head against players of equal skill level so we'll get a chance to really see where we're at."
And where they're at is the only thing Ferguson and his coaching staff is concerned with right now.
"We just need to get us much court time as possible and improve at as quick a pace as we can," Ferguson said. "That's the focus, that's the goal. Winning matches is always a good thing, but right now, I just want our kids to keep gaining experience and keep improving. It's not about where we are but where we end up."
Ferguson also noted that he's looking forward to seeing Northeast A rival Lewistown for the first time, since the Eagles didn't make the trip to last weekend's Cut Bank Invite where the Ponies were in the finals of three out of the four top brackets.
"It will be good to play Lewistown," Ferguson said. "That will be a great learning experience for us because it's a divisional opponent. So again, I think we're going to find out a lot about ourselves in Conrad."
The Havre boys will look to continue their strong early play behind veterans like Josh Warp and Trenton Maloughney, and Josh Currie, who won the singles bracket in Cut Bank. But newcomers like Caleb and Carter Spangler, Conner McKay, Gavin Hall, Reid Kato, Wyatt Simpson, Isaac Pedraza and Mason Kinsella will also benefit greatly from the second week of the season.
"Our boys team is kind of split right down the middle," Ferguson said. "We have a group of experienced guys, and we have newcomers, and those newcomers, these first few weeks is huge. So I'm excited to see them all play again this weekend."
Meanwhile, the Pony girls are almost composed of all newcomers, though Talia Ralph and Grace Crantz, and McKenzie Mangold are providing a veteran presence on an otherwise very green Pony tennis squad.
"I was so encouraged by how our girls did in Cut Bank," Ferguson said. "For so many of them, it was the first tennis matches they've ever played outside of practice, and they did really well. They learned so much last weekend, and now we'll get to see how much that experience helps them as they play in Conrad."
Playing is the key word. Ferguson said after missing the 2020 season because of the start of the coronavirus emergency, the Ponies, and all other tennis players are way behind. So, matches and court time are the keys to catching up.
"Our kids are doing great in practice," Ferguson said. "They
are working hard. But there's also no substitute for live competition, and that's the other part of the equation. So I'm really looking forward to getting down to Conrad and getting all these kids another day of tennis."
The Ponies will begin play at the Conrad Invite at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Next week will be a big one, as well, because Havre hosts its two-day Havre Invitational.