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4 four-tunate ones

Lady Pirates win fourth divisional tennis title; Justin Evertz and Shad Giles team up to win doubles title for Polson boys

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It was a good week for Polson tennis. Even the weather cooperated as the Polson girls wrapped up their fourth straight divisional tennis title and the boys’ top doubles team earned the tournament championship.

Kalispell was host to the Northwestern A Divisional tennis tournament on Thursday and Friday, played out at the Flathead Valley Community College outdoor courts, as well as girls’ singles play in The Summit’s three indoor courts. Despite ominous weather forecasts, the rain stayed away and the wind wasn’t as strong as predicted.

Jane Probst and the team of Kayla and Kendyall Rochin led the Lady Pirates to the team championship, with a pair of second-place finishes that provided a big share of Polson’s total 61 points, ahead of Libby’s 56. 

Probst went 3-1 in the singles bracket and dropped just three games in her first three matches. She eventually fell to state champion Jackie Mee of Libby 6-3, 6-1.

“Jane Probst played by far her best tennis of the year,” Polson head coach Bob Hislop said. “In the finals she played last year’s divisional and state champion and lost a very well-played 6-3, 6-1 match. Jane has had a knee issue all season and has been sick for the past three weeks, so it was really nice to see her back playing at a level she is capable of.”

Kayla and Kendyall Rochin looked strong in their first two doubles matches, dropping just one game. But they didn’t look as sharp in the championship, losing 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 to a Libby team they’d beaten in straight set the previous week.

“Kendyall and Kayla Rochin had a very easy time of it until the championship. Neither of the number one seeds had their A game,” coach Hislop noted.

But all of Polson’s doubles teams advanced deep into the tournament, the coach noted. 

Kenzie Clay and Kelsie Howell, and the team of Audra Engebretson and Jordan Quinn both lost in the quarterfinals and got into the consolation bracket where they started winning matches. They eventually met up in a hard-fought three-set match, with Clay and Howell coming out on top 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. Howell and Clay then made it to state with a fourth-place finish, losing in a third-set tiebreaker 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 to finish the tournament 4-2.

The Lady Pirate singles players also had a great week of tennis.

The weekend’s big surprise was freshman Whitney Zimmerman, who entered the tournament as Polson’s number four singles player. But she proved to be a lot better of player than that, battling to a 4-1 record at divisionals to capture third place. Her only loss was to her teammate, Probst, in the semifinals.

“We learned that she has an iron will and amazing stamina,” Hislop said of Zimmerman. “Without her surprise third-place finish the Lady Pirates’ Divisional Championship streak would have ended at three.”

Polson also got good performances from Karmen Borchers (2-2) and Erika Nunlist (3-2), who lost to Zimmerman in the consolation bracket to end her run.

“We were so dominant in girls’ singles the first day that we ended up beating our own players out of the tourney,” coach Hislop said. “Erika Nunlist had a great tourney. Karmen (Borchers) got into the consolation bracket and did so well that they had to play each other to advance. Erika ended up winning that match in two sets. Then when Whitney lost to Jane in the semifinals she and Erika met in the match to advance to state and Whitney prevailed in two sets.”

Polson’s boys were led by the team of Justin Evertz and Shad Giles, who earned the divisional doubles championship with a close three-set victory over the previously undefeated Libby team of T.J. Benson and Alex Cislo 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. They advanced to the finals with another three-set victory in the semifinals, closing out Libby number two team 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. 

“The four boys had played an epic three-set match in Libby a week ago and Libby had won,” Hislop said of the championship matchup. “This time Shad and Justin played a really smart third set and won.”

It was Polson’s first boys’ doubles title since 1994. 

Matt Roberts place third in boys’ singles with a great 6-3, 6-3 win over Parker Johnson of Columbia Falls. Roberts fell to Joel Mallams of Whitefish 7-5, 7-5 in the semifinals, battling cramps.

“I have no doubt he would have played in the finals against eventual champ Cree Maloney if it weren’t for the fact that he dealt with cramping in his semifinal match. He had a comfortable 5-2 lead in the second set,” Hislop said. “(But) the tournament trainer treated him and he was able to qualify for state.”

The remainder of the boys’ team also had a great tourney, Hislop noted. 

“Christian McCurdy put in a great effort as he always does. His two losses were very hard fought matches to Ronan’s number one player and Columbia Falls’ number two,” Hislop explained. “He had two very solid wins sandwiched in between.”

Jacob Browne, who qualified for the divisional team the night before play started, won a huge first round match 6-2, 7-5 and ended up getting two more wins on the consolation side. Andrew Storro also played two real nice matches but came out without a win.

Polson’s number two doubles team of freshman Will Davey and sophomore Ian Laimbeer had a great weekend, according to their coach. 

“They started out by upsetting Ronan’s number one team and also won two matches on the consolation side,” coach Hislop noted. “Freshman Hayden Congdon and Soph Sam Peel played their best tennis of the year at number three doubles and won two matches for the Pirates before barely losing to the Whitefish number one team in loser-out play.”

The Polson boys scored their highest point total at divisionals since 2006 with a second-place 40-point weekend. 

“(The girls) really had an amazing weekend. Polson had only one girls title in school history before this streak of four. The best part is that we were the youngest girls team in the field,” coach Hislop noted. “Only one player we took out of 20 ended up without a win and with the (young) age of the team it is really exciting to look to the future.

The top four singles and doubles teams advance to this week’s state Class A tennis tournament, which will be held in Billings May 27-28.


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