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Kings of the court, again

Blue Pony boys proud to return tennis title to Havre

 

Last updated 6/10/2021 at 7:49am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

HHS head coach George Ferguson and the HHS boys tennis team pose with their state championship trophy. The Blue Ponies scored 23 points to win the state meet in Billings last month.

The Havre High tennis team started the century strong with a stretch of six straight state championships prior to 2006. However, despite plenty of success since, the Blue Ponies were not able to reach those heights again for 16 seasons. This past season, the Ponies finally put an end to that drought by winning a state title at the state tennis tournament in Billings last month.

"It felt really good actually. To know it's been that long and some of the names that have come through here since then, we kind of won it for all of them, everyone that wasn't able to win one," said HHS junior doubles player Trenton Maloughney.

Since their last state title in 2006, the Ponies had gotten close to reaching the top again. In that time, they finished in the top three of the state tournament nine times but were never able to claim another title until this season. HHS head coach George Ferguson, who has been coaching the team since 2003, was happy to see this team to finally get over the hump.

"It feels great to win another state championship," Ferguson said. "Of course, I'm very proud of everything this program has accomplished in my time as head coach. But more so, I'm just so happy for these guys. Winning a state championship, especially a team title is something really special. It's an incredible achievement, and it's something that these guys will have to talk about and be proud of forever.

"And that's what it's all about for me, just seeing these kids accomplish their ultimate goals, and to reach new heights in this sport I love so much," Ferguson continued. "That is where I get my most fulfillment as a coach. Just seeing how happy those kids were at the awards ceremony after the tournament, on the bus ride home, at our fire truck parade, just seeing the pride they have in what they accomplished, that means the world to me. There's no better feeling as a coach, and I'm just so proud of this team, I'm proud of my program, and I'm just so happy for these kids. It was an awesome season, and the ending was incredible. It's special. It's something I'll never forget."

The title also served as the perfect send-off for Havre's seniors such as Josh Warp. In his last season as a Pony, Warp and Maloughney played together on a doubles team that placed third at the state meet.

"It meant a lot to me especially with it being my senior year and being my last time playing and doing it with Trenton was special," Warp said.

The state title was also the reward for many Ponies that had been playing tennis from a young age.

"Growing up, I went to a lot of tennis camps as a kid so it just felt good to represent Blue Pony tennis and win a state title here," Maloughney said.

Some Ponies were just happy to be a part of a state-championship team for the first time in their lives.

"I've never won a state championship so that was really fun and I'm glad I was a part of it," said HHS tennis player Theron Peterson.

The state title is more impressive with the knowledge that Havre had an inexperienced team coming into the season. The boys team had only four returning varsity players from 2019 and Warp was the only player to have played at state in his career. The Ponies also had no returning doubles teams and four of their five players on their state team had never been to state before.

"This was such an interesting year because everything was new," Ferguson said. "From three new doubles teams, to first-year varsity players, to everybody missing 2020, it was basically a brand new team this season, and yet here we are, state champions at the end.

"I think that really speaks to several things," Ferguson added. "First, our kids worked really hard and handled how much we threw at them, how hard we pushed them to be great this spring. Second, I think it shows how the plan of just striving to get better every single day, and not getting ahead of ourselves, that pays off. And also, I think this just speaks to how good our kids are and how they've worked so hard to harness their potential. This team came so far in such a short amount of time, and it's because they put in the time, worked hard, dedicated themselves and committed to being the best tennis team they possibly could be."

Ponies such as Warp and Maloughney qualified for state after a strong performance in the regular season and divisionals.

As a team, the Ponies went 19-4 in duals and won a divisional title for the 12th straight year. Warp and Maloughney were the seventh straight HHS doubles team to win divisionals and place at state. Josh Currie was also the first Pony to play for a state title in the singles bracket since 2016. Warp believes their dedication and hard work such as their late-night practices led them to success and a title this season.

"I think playing late at night after practice with the junior class and all the kids that were on varsity. That definitely put us over the top," Warp said.

Even though some seniors will be leaving the program, Warp believes the experience the younger players gained during their title run will set up the Ponies for more success in the future.

"They all have that experience to go and do it again next year," Warp said.

 

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