With an ample supply of talent and depth, the Corvallis girls will be tough to stop in their bid for a second straight State A team tennis title in Billings.
The Blue Devils boast three singles players and two doubles teams capable of racking up big points in a meet slated for Thursday and Friday. Included on the list is unbeaten Laramie McHugh, who finished third at state last season and appears to be on a collision course with defending state singles champion Barclay Fagg of Billings Central.
“I’m feeling real good about our depth, how many kids we’re taking,” said Corvallis veteran coach Mike Fehr, whose squad did not drop a dual meet all season. “But Billings Central has a really tough team and Polson is always tough. They come prepared.”
For sheer numbers, no one compares with the Blue Devils. Joining McHugh will be Roxy Rademacher and Amber Wissenbach in singles and the doubles teams of Emma Decker/Annie Sangster and Dakota Vaccaro/Miriam Montgomery.
Billings Central will rely on Fagg and two doubles teams for points. Hardin has two singles qualifiers and two doubles teams and the same goes for Polson. Yet neither of those squads has a pair of divisional champions like Corvallis does in McHugh and Decker/Sangster.
“We don’t have a star,” Polson coach Bob Hislop said. “Our doubles girls are probably our best four players.
“(Taylor) Rost and (Mollybeth) Hendrix have been our top team all year. Mollybeth was second at state with a different partner two years ago. (Karly) Rochin was fourth at state two years ago and she’s on our second best team with Marlee Congdon.”
Hislop needs points out of singles players Shannon Oakley and Shawna Oakley in order to push Corvallis for team bragging rights. But even if they do play well, it may not be enough to offset the points racked up by McHugh, a junior who has a favorable draw on the opposite side of Fagg.
“Laramie is just playing so on top of it,” Fehr said. “Her level of improvement is amazing this year. She was a great player last year but she has improved immensely.
“Her forehand, she’s driving the corners much more aggressively than a year ago.”
While Corvallis is the favorite on the girls’ side, Billings Central looks like a good bet to come away with gold on the boys’ side.
Last year the Rams shared state bragging rights with Polson in a meet held in Polson and Ronan. This year Billings Central will enjoy home cooking, playing on Magic City courts at Pioneer Park and Central Park.
Not only do the Rams have a two-time defending state singles champion in Dillon Meyer, they bring a doubles team to the table that took second at state last year in John Knisely and Harrison Fagg.
The Rams are heavy on the doubles side with three teams. Polson will be represented by two players in singles (Brady Hislop and Quaid Harlan) and one doubles team (Dylan McCrumb and Layne Zimmerman).
“I think it’s Billings Central’s tournament to lose,” coach Hislop said. “As good as it was for us in divisionals, we lost a doubles team we were hoping to take to state. We needed that depth.”
Nevertheless, Polson has a puncher’s chance. Unbeaten Brady Hislop is on the opposite side of the singles draw as Meyer, so they may meet in the state finals. The same two teams may duke it out in doubles, with unbeaten divisional champs McCrumb and Zimmerman on the opposite side as Knisely and Harrison Fagg.
“Dylan has had some arm trouble, so we wanted to do what was best for the team in moving him to doubles,” coach Hislop noted. “They’re at least one of the three teams in state.
“Same for Brady (Hislop) in singles. He has improved a ton this year and didn’t lose a game at divisionals.”
Hislop had one three-set match this season, that coming in an away meet against DJ Pekoc of Corvallis. Pekoc, who has won two state doubles titles, is a good bet to reach the singles semifinal round where he would likely face Meyer.
“I would say singles is going to come down to DJ and Dillon Meyer (in one semifinal) and Brady Hislop and Alma (Powell of Corvallis),” Blue Devils coach Chris Maul-Smith said. “One thing about DJ is that he can adjust to a lot of different styles.”
Weather permitting, the meet will conclude sometime on Friday. Saturday has been designated as a rain date.
Western Montana Class A
Singles – Laramie McHugh, Roxy Rademacher and Amber Wissenbach, Corvallis; Shannon Oakley and Shawna Oakley, Polson; Allison Enzler, Stevensville; Emily Getts, Columbia Falls; Sloan Ellis, Whitefish.
Doubles – Emma Decker/Annie Sangster and Dakota Vaccaro/Miriam Montgomery, Corvallis; Mollybeth Hendrix/Taylor Rost and Karly Rochin/Marlee Congdon, Polson; Caroline Carbo/Heather Luedtke and McKenzie Wick/Anna Peterson, Whitefish.
Singles – DJ Pekoc and Alma Powell, Corvallis; Brady Hislop and Quaid Harlan, Polson; Holden Roberts, Whitefish; Curtis Liston, Stevensville; Gavin Thelen, Columbia Falls.
Doubles – Porter Jessop/Shade Jessop, Corvallis; Lars Larson/Walker Weber and Colton Belcourt/Joseph Fecteau, Stevensville; Dylan McCrumb/Layne Zimmerman, Polson; Mason Gedlaman/Caleb Baumann, Columbia Falls; Jason Schnackenberg/Cody Wood, Libby; Logan Blades/Nathan Fauth, Whitefish.
BC’s Guldseth, Trudnowski seek doubles crown
Kale Guldseth was an accomplished singles player heading into the 2014 tennis season.
Last year, Guldseth advanced to the Class A State tournament with a fourth-place finish at the Southwestern A Divisional meet.
Instead of looking for a return to state in singles, though, the Maroons gave Guldseth some help this season. BC coach Bernie Carey is hoping that will result in a state title this weekend as Guldseth heads to state in Billings with doubles partner Tyler Trudnowski.
“We took a gamble at the start of the season with this pairing, and the gamble paid off,” Carey said. “Kale and Tyler are true competitors and more importantly great friends. They have shown time and time again that they can work together as a team and rise to any occasion.”
Last week in Corvallis, the BC duo certainly proved just that by winning the Southwestern A Divisional doubles title. They rebounded from a 6-3 loss in the first set to beat Lars Larson and Walker Weber 6-0 and 6-0 in the championship match.
Thursday, Guldseth and Trudnowski will play Columbia Falls’ Mason Gedlamann and Caleb Baumann, the No. 4 seed from the Northwestern A . The winner of that match will play Dennis Berg and Gavin McPherson of Glendive or Zach Hould and Bryson Behl of Lewistown in the quarterfinals.
Carey said he likes the chances of his doubles tandem heading into the tournament, which features a 16-team field.
“I’m very proud of them, and have the utmost confidence in their ability at the state tournament this week,” the coach said. “They want nothing more than to bring a state championship to Butte.”
The tournament will be played at the Pioneer Park and Central Park Tennis Courts.
Central boys want title outright this year
The Billings Central boys tennis team isn’t in a sharing mood this year.
That’s in reference to last season, when the Rams were co-State A team champions with Polson. This year, the Rams are hoping to remove any doubt about which is the best team in the state as the State A tournament begins Thursday at Pioneer Park and Central Park.
“I think everybody contributed to that victory, and we look at it as a victory and a state championship,” Central boys coach Mary K. Housinger said. “However, the boys are saying this year there are no ties.”
The Rams figure to have plenty of say in the matter. With two-time singles champ Dillon Meyer, the unbeaten doubles team of John Knisely/Harrison Fagg, and two more doubles teams, Central has both quantity and quality in the tournament field. Glendive can match in quantity with three singles players and a doubles team, while Corvallis, Polson and Whitefish can all provide strong challenges as well.
Defending State A girls champion Corvallis had a banner divisional tournament, qualifying the top three singles players out of the Southwestern A as well as the first- and third-place doubles teams. Polson, meanwhile, qualified two singles players out of the Northwest as well as the top two doubles teams.
Closer to home, Hardin’s girls are looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish at state by qualifying two singles players and two doubles teams, including the tandem of Hannah Ware/Katie McCleary, who won the Eastern A. Led by Barclay Fagg’s divisional singles title, Central hopes to contend for tournament hardware with the addition of two doubles teams.
Polson in state title hunt
Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The Polson boys tennis team looks to defend its state championship from last season as they enter tonight’s state tournament in Billings with a handful of top contenders.
The Pirates, who tied for the title last season with Billings Central, is looking to bring back its first undivided state title in school history.
Top-seeded Pirates singles player Brady Hislop opens his tournament against Livingston’s Noble Vance. Hislop didn’t drop a game last week at the Northwestern A divisional on his way to his second divisional championship. He is one of a few players that could contend with two-time defending state champion Dillon Meyer of Billings Central for the individual title. Corvallis’ DJ Pekoc and Havre’s Jeff Miller also enter off divisional wins.
“All three of those boys are vastly improved this year,” Polson coach Bob Hislop said. “It’s going to a matter of having a good day.”
Whitefish’s Holden Roberts opens with Anaconda’s Carsen Boynton opposite Meyer in the first round. Columbia Falls’ Gavin Thelen will play Livingston’s John Potenberg opposite Pekoc and Polson’s Quaid Harlan opens against Miller.
Polson’s top doubles pair of Dylan McCrumb and Layne Zimmerman enter as one of three favorites for a state title, with McCrumb returning from a runner-up finish in singles and Zimmerman placing in doubles last season. Billings Central’s John Knisley and Harrison Fagg and Butte Central’s Kale Guldseth and Tyler Trudnowski should also contend.
McCrumb and Zimmerman open against Stevensville’s Colton Belcourt and Joseph Fecteau. Libby’s Jason Schnackenberg and Cody Wood play Corvallis’ Porter and Shade Jessop to start, Whitefish’s Logan Blades and Nathan Fauth open with Stevi’s Lars Larson and Noah Landgraf and Columbia Falls’ Mason Gedlaman and Caleb Baumann play Guldseth and Trudnowski.
The Polson girls, while not expected to contend for a team title like the boys, still have plenty of fire power.
Most of the Pirates punch comes in doubles this season, where they have two teams that could threaten to take home hardware.
Mollybeth Hendrix and Taylor Rost took the top spot at divisionals last week and look like one of the favorites at state, opening against Livingston’s Tegan and Lindsay Lane. Karly Rochin and Marlee Congdon play Anaconda’s Ashley Johnson and Dallas Salle in the first round and will have to defeat the top Eastern pair of Hannah Ware and Katie McCleary of Hardin for a shot at the title.
Whitefish also has a pair of duos at the meet, Caroline Carbo and Heather Luedke opening with Havre’s Ellery Bresler and Breck Don and McKenzie Wick and Anna Peterson starting with the Central’s top team of Mariel Kelley and Emilee Coleman of Livingston.
Columbia Falls’ Emily Getts looks to get back on track in singles play, coming off a tough win at divisional last week. She plays Glendive’s Annie Hill in the first round. Billings Central’s Barclay Fagg, the state runner up last season, and Corvallis’ Laramie McHugh enter as the tournament favorites. Havre’s Brandy Lambourne, one of the best athletes at the meet, enters as the Central’s top seed.
Polson’s Shawna Oakley opens against Hardin’s Chrissy Weibert in the first round and sister Shannon Oakley plays Fagg. Whitefish’s Sloan Ellis opens with Hardin’s Alce Cai.
“I think we have a very good chance for trophies on both sides,” Bob Hislop said.
Tournament play concludes on Friday.