In between flurries, squalls and rain showers, Columbia Falls tennis players haven’t seen much time on an actual court.
Before the break, the Wildkats got one outside practice in on a sunny but decidedly cool day — all of 22 degrees.
Ditto for the boys.
Still, both coaches have hopes of getting some athletes to the state tournament this year.
The Wildcats return 10 players from last year and have seven new players, coach Gary Yee said. Last year, no boys from Columbia Falls qualified for state, but they do have some talent in seniors Mason Gedlaman, Caleb Baumann and Gavin Thelan.
Yee, who’s been coaching now for 12 years, said he also expects good things from Grant Wallace, Brock Denney and Cooper Wendt.
On the girls side, coach Jerry Smalley has 36 girls total and four returning letter winners — Emily Getts, Hailey Sapa, Baylee Brinton and Olivia Lewis-Peterson. Last year as a freshman, Getts was the lone qualifier for the state Class A tournament. She took second in singles in the divisional competition.
Smalley, who’s assisted by Gene Marcille, who coaches junior varsity, said he wasn’t sure how his varsity lineup will shake out — the girls have simply been indoors too much.
“Having to practice indoors, we are feeling some pressure to prepare for four matches the first week after spring break,” Smalley said.
The boys and the girls teams are scheduled to open their season April 8 in Ronan. They have a week off for spring break, then have four matches in the first week of the season, including an opening match with Whitefish at home on Thursday, April 10.