State BC tennis: Missoula Loyola repeats as team, girls singles, girls doubles champions | MSU Bobcats

BOZEMAN – Patti Danforth doesn’t like to use the word “dynasty.” After Friday, it’s becoming harder to avoid.

Missoula Loyola earned its third straight Class BC tennis girls team state championship and its second consecutive boys title on Friday at Montana State’s indoor Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center (a relocation from Bozeman High because of snow). The Breakers took the first-place girls trophy with 39 points, six more than second-place Simms. The Rams finished with 45 points, 18 ahead of runner-up Cut Bank.

“Our tennis team is a family. The parents, the coaches, the kids, we all work really hard to keep it all together, ”said Loyola coach Patti Danforth. “Are we leaving a legacy? Probably. Am I proud of that? Oh my god, yeah. “

Loyola also captured the girls singles and double titles in dominant fashion. Evelyn Dechans finished her high school career with her di lei third singles championship, while di lei sophomore teammates Ava Bellamah and Gio Horner cruised through the girls doubles bracket.

Loyola was denied a chance to sweep the tournament on the boys side. Great Falls Central junior Ignacio Carrion beat Loyola senior Jake Bellamah (Ava’s brother) for the boys singles title, while Cut Bank seniors Eddie Dewart and Dillon Gray beat Loyola sophomores Joe Kirschenmann and Carter Topp in comeback fashion for first place in the boys doubles bracket.

Missoula Loyola’s boys tennis players pose for photos with their State BC first-place trophy on Friday at the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.

Dechans completes perfect career

Evelyn Dechans feels a tinge of what could have been, but that’s overridden by her sense of accomplishment.

Dechans didn’t lose a single match in her remarkable four years at Loyola. She hardly lost any sets this week and finished her undefeated career with a 6-0, 6-1 State BC girls singles title win Friday over Choteau senior Katie Major.

“I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. I’ve got the pleasure of having a lot of great people on my team, a lot of great coaches, I had my uncle (Joe Radke) on the bench with me, ”Dechans said. “I wanted it so bad. It’s not something a lot of people get to accomplish, and I’m very lucky and very grateful that I’ve had the opportunity. “

The title made Dechans the eighth girls tennis player to win three state titles in Montana history, according to the Montana High School Association. There’s a good chance she’d be the fifth four-time champion if the 2020 season wasn’t canceled because of COVID-19.

“I can’t say any more good about her than I already have,” Danforth said.

Dechans will continue her tennis career at Saint Mary’s College, a Division III program in Indiana. She’ll carry the memories di lei from her blemish-free high school career di lei with her di lei to the next level.

“I’m really grateful for everybody that supported me through all four years, through COVID and everything,” Dechans said. “I just got really lucky to have a lot of people who support me and have helped me through it. I’ve worked pretty hard for this moment, so to see it all pay off is pretty great. “

State BC girls singles placers

The State BC girls singles placers, including champion Evelyn Dechans (far right) of Missoula Loyola, pose for photos on Friday at the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.

Breaker duo rolls to title

A year ago, Loyola’s Gio Horner watched her best friend Ava Bellamah win a doubles title with Grace Daniel (Bellamah’s cousin), while Horner lost to Dechans 1-6, 0-6 in the State BC singles championship match.

Daniel graduated last year, providing an easy opening for Horner to team up with Bellamah. Like Dechans, they capped an undefeated season with a 6-0, 6-1 win in the title match (against Simms’ Macy Herman and Kaylee Zietzke).

“It was a blast,” Horner said. “Playing with her, it was the best.”

Bellamah and Horner have played with each other since fourth grade and became friends years before that.

“We’ve known each other so long that we understand each other and help each other react,” Horner said. “It’s just easy for us to play together because we know our next moves.”

Bellamah and Horner aren’t sure if they’ll remain a duo for their final two seasons. Losing Dechans and other girls singles players might lead them to go the individual route. Either way, Bellamah will have a chance to become a four-time champion.

“My end goal is to win all four years,” Bellamah said. “Halfway there.”

Whatever happens next, Bellamah will cherish her title-winning first two seasons.

“To have my cousin last year and my best friend this year, it’s a really proud moment to win for them,” Bellamah said.

State BC girls doubles placers

The State BC girls doubles placers, including champions Gio Horner (far right) and Ava Bellamah (second from right) of Missoula Loyola, pose for photos on Friday at the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.

Spanish newcomer topples defending champ

Before this year, Ignacio Carrion had barely encountered snow, let alone snow in May.

Carrion is a foreign exchange student from Madrid, Spain, who’s finishing up his first year at Great Falls Central. The frequently cold, windy conditions of Great Falls and the snowy Friday in Bozeman still take some getting used to. Luckily for him, poor weather wasn’t a factor during his State BC boys singles match on MSU’s indoor tennis court.

Carrion rallied past defending champion Jake Bellamah 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 for the title. His family di lui back in Spain was watching the match via FaceTime, he said.

“I’m really proud of that,” Carrion said. “I have to say thanks to all my teammates and my host family.”

After dropping the second set, Carrion made sure to get rest, re-focus and “believe in myself,” he said.

“I was really nervous. I was shaking, ”he said. “My heart was going really fast. There were too many people watching me. In Spain, there wasn’t any match where people watched me. “

Carrion, who has played tennis for 14 years, hopes to play tennis in college. He’s not sure where yet, but staying in his new state by him probably appeals more now.

“It’s cold and windy,” Carrion said, “but I’m having a lot of fun.”

State BC boys singles placers

The State BC boys singles placers, including champion Ignacio Carrion (far right) of Great Falls Central, pose for photos on Friday at the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.

Cut Bank pulls off improbable comeback

Eddie Dewart and Dillon Gray felt urgency as soon as they reached the State BC boys doubles title match. Their opponents, Loyola sophomores Joe Kirschenmann and Carter Topp, would have two more opportunities to win state championships after Friday. Dewart and Gray are seniors who don’t plan to play tennis in college.

“Before the match, I told (Gray), ‘They’re sophomores, we’re seniors,’” Dewart said. “‘This is our time, so let’s go.'”

The Cut Bank pair looked likely to lose for much of the match. Kirschenmann and Topp, who won the first set 6-4 and lost the second 4-6, built a 5-2 lead in set three, leaving them one game away from capturing their first state title.

“We’re about to lose if we keep playing like this,” Gray said to Dewart, they recalled after the match.

They responded by winning five straight games to pull within one game of the title. The two Rams won the next game to force a tiebreaker, but any momentum they regained was squashed. Dewart and Gray won the tiebreaker 7-2.

“I didn’t have any words,” Gray said. “I was just amazed. Proud of him and me for coming back. “

Both Dewart and Gray shed tears after they notched the winning point.

“I never thought I’d cry during a tennis match,” Dewart said. “I was stunned.”

This is Gray’s second straight State BC doubles title. He won it with then-senior Brett Sneed last year, while Dewart was a singles player. Dewart came close to finishing his career without a state title, but Friday was his time.

“I joined doubles because I thought I could do this,” Dewart said. “It ended up being worth it.”

State BC boys doubles placers

The State BC boys doubles placers, including champions Eddie Dewart (far right) and Dillon Gray (second from right) of Cut Bank, pose for photos on Friday at the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center in Bozeman.


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