Weather permitting, the Choteau High School tennis team has a busy week ahead with two tournaments.
The team will travel to Helena Friday, April 29, for the Dawg-Bite tournament hosted by Townsend and will host the divisional preview tournament on Saturday, April 30, in Choteau.
Carla May, CHS tennis coach, said she hopes there are some teams they haven’t played yet this season in Helena. “It is always nice to meet up with teams and players you might see at the state meet, plus giving the players new competition to play and improve their skills,” May said.
On Saturday the teams in the Bulldogs’ conference – which includes Great Falls Central, Conrad, Cut Bank, Simms and tentatively Terry – will be in Choteau. May said this will be tournament style with teams seeding their top four single players and two doubles teams. “Just as it will be at divisional,” May said.
May explained the district decided last year the divisional preview tournament should be hosted by the school also hosting divisional. Choteau hosts the divisional tournament this year in Great Falls. In years past, the pre-tournament was held in Cut Bank. This is a change, one that they hope gives the coaches who will host divisional a chance to become familiar with the players and bracketing as it will be very similar at divisional, May said. She feels fortunate longtime organizer of the meet from Cut Bank, Jim Gregg, will be helping her with the tournament. “He has so much knowledge of how to run this tournament and has graciously agreed to help,” May said. “We will just mirror what they have done in the past.”
Matches will start at 8 am on the four courts near the school and continue throughout the day.
“The season is winding down for the team,” May said. With four of the six players advancing to state music festival, the team will not be attending a meet the following weekend and will host divisional the next week.
Despite not ideal weather conditions, the team played four of their six scheduled duals at the Sing and Swing tournament hosted by Simms in Great Falls on April 22 and 23. “This is a big tournament with 15 teams,” May said. She praised fellow coach Colleen Green from Simms for how smooth this tournament runs. “She always does a great job and has it so organized.”
Choteau teamed up for the first day of play with Terry who is new to their division this year. They were able to get in two duals staring at 8 am They played as many singles and doubles matches as possible against Conrad and Simms.
Unfortunately, when they returned to play in the afternoon the weather changed, and they were unable to play.
Saturday’s opening match was canceled as the courts were too wet to safely play. Their second match against Philipsburg High School was scheduled for the Meadowlark Country Club and they were able to play indoors. They played matches with the Class C team for almost two hours. In the afternoon they returned outdoors and faced Boulder. They got in a couple hours and were just finishing as rain arrived.
“Overall, it was a bit cool, but we were able to play and got in some good matches,” May said. “Like in previous weeks, it’s still all about getting court time and working on their games.”
May said during practice this past week they worked on fine tuning some of skills and continuing with conditioning. “It was positive to see the students utilizing some of the areas we had focused on during practice in their matches,” May added.
Freshman Kylie Kovatch is improving each week, May said. Kylie played one match on Saturday that went close to two hours against a much more experienced junior, and she held her own di lei. “I’m just very impressed with how hard she is working and putting into play what we are practicing,” the coach added.
The same can be said for first-year player Ceanna Leys. “These girls, really the whole team is just so coachable,” May said.
Senior Katie Major played an opponent from CJI in what was just an amazing match, May said.
Ella Peach also had some good matches throughout the weekend, as did the team’s only boy, Matthew Haas. “Ella and Katie played against two young men, exchange students, that were good competitors,” May said. “Matthew has some tough competition he has faced at each of the meets and despite not ending up on the winning side, he continues to work hard and gain experience,” May said. She spoke of one match where he was behind and after visiting with the coaches and using some of the techniques they had been working on, he won the match.
May said it is hard to believe the season is quickly coming to an end. She feels the hard work the Bulldog players have put into the season and the court time will have them ready to compete come divisional.
She and the team invite Choteau residents to stop by the courts on Saturday and watch a little tennis.