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Mission boys, girls struggle at state tennis tourney

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The St. Ignatius boys had a tough run at the 2013 state tournament, not only in the end results, but also with the weather. All three days were rained out and play was moved inside, which resulted in shortened scoring that could have affected a couple of players’ end results if they had played full sets and had time to make a comeback. 

Karl Daniels, who was in the group of favorites for placing at state, unfortunately came back from a school-sponsored event the night before state with a fever, chills and dizziness. 

“Despite that, he did battle on his first day and came out with two wins,” coach Kimimi Ashley said. “But then he came up against second-place finisher Kalen Christiaens and just had no energy to fight against Kalen, who was hitting very well throughout the whole tournament.” 

In his last match of the tournament, Karl played Bigfork surprise Seth Roessman and was playing well. They were neck and neck in the game score up until the 5-5 mark when Seth broke Karl’s serve and went up 6-5. 

“Karl got a bit nervous at that point and lost the next two games,” Ashley said. “After calming down and focusing on point by point, Karl won the next two games and was at 7-8. At that point, even though Karl was doing the right things in his plan to defeat Seth, the shots just weren’t working out and too many landing in the net. That was just enough for Seth to pull out the win at 10-7.” Seth went on to win his next two matches also and place third in the tournament. Karl had a good tournament considering not hitting a tennis ball for three days before the tournament and then coming up sick. With time on the court this summer and hopefully getting started on next years season before the season starts, Karl should be able to make a mark at next years tournament as a senior player. 

A first-year player for St. Ignatius who had also had a tough draw in playing Cutbank favorite Isaac Matt as his first opponent was Jamie Mullins. 

“Jamie went out knowing that it was going to be hard, and yet he still got some winners off of Isaac,” Ashley said. “Jamie is a competitive player and hopefully took away from his loss what a top, seasoned player looks like and that he should set that goal for himself with hard work.” 

When he played Troy senior Andrew Haggerty, Jamie was up three games in the beginning when Haggerty started gaining a bit of an upper hand in his lobbing whenever Jamie went to the net. 

Although Haggerty pulled out a 10-8 win, “Once again, Jamie can take away from that match that he almost pulled off an upset against a senior player in his first year of play,” Ashley noted.

With a bit of déjà-vu, senior Katz Yelsa lost the match that would have earned him and doubles partner Nick Johnson a placement at state — the same thing happened to Katz in 2012 with his partner Harry Suta. 

“But Katz really stepped up as a leader on the court this season at state,” Ashley said. “He was playing with first-time player Nick Johnson, a senior who decided he would give tennis a try a couple of weeks into the season.”

Katz came away from state play with two wins and two losses.

On the girls’ side, Briar Ahlborn, Cierra Dougherty and Kayla Billette all had a great learning experience during their first trip to state, according to coach Sara Ison.

“It was good for them to see that everyone there is just as good and that every girl there can hit the ball and hit it well,” Ison noted. “They now see what it would take to place at state next year.”

Billette dominated her first match 10-0 in a 10-game pro set. Her next match was against would-be state champion Emma Woolridge.  “(Billette) was very calm and didn’t let herself get psyched out,” Ison said. “She just stayed true to herself and her game and went out there and played. In the end, it was a fun match for both Kayla and Emma because Cierra and Briar made it fun and light with their cheering.” 

Billette’s next match ended in a hard loss to a Conrad player who really amped it up after the fifth game of the 10 pro set.  

“There wasn’t a whole lot Kayla could do; sometimes it’s not so much what you did wrong as much as your opponent is just on and playing extremely well,” Ison said. 

Dougherty and Ahlborn both had a bit of a disappointing tournament, as they both lost out in two the first day. 

“They still learned from it and are better prepared for next year and they will know more what to expect when they make it to state,” Ison said. “It’s been a great learning year for the girls on Mission tennis and I look forward to next year and the great season in our future.”


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