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Forged by fire: Young Ronan girls earn first tennis dual win

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RONAN — The Ronan tennis team got plenty of competition in last week as they continued to develop both their court skills and experience. Ronan hosted duals Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then travelled to Columbia Falls on Monday.

Ronan picked up just one dual win — the girls beat Eureka 4-3 — but did play some very competitive matches throughout the week.

On Thursday, Polson's girls swept Ronan 7-0 and the Pirates won the boys' dual 6-1. Jeff Leo and Colten Cheff battled back to win the number two boys doubles match in three sets over Polson's Will Davey and Ian Laimbeer 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3. In girls play, Taylir Courville won a set in the number three singles match, but fell to Polson's Josie Bendetti 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

On Friday, the Ronan girls were swept 7-0 by Bigfork, but Ronan's boys picked up two wins in a 5-2 team loss. Hunter Shima won a battle in the number two singles match, beating Bigfork's Ryan Gembala 6-4, 7-6 (9-7). Cheff and Leo also won their number two doubles match 6-3, 6-3.

Ronan head coach Gordon Cummings mixed up the boys' lineup on Saturday against visiting Whitefish and it almost paid off with a team win, but the Bulldogs edged the Chiefs 4-3. 

Austin Butler had a solid win at number one singles for Ronan, beating Francisco Valle 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Leo and Cheff picked up a 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) win at number two doubles, and Jess Smith and Spencer Sucha cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win at number three doubles. 

"Austin played some of the best tennis he has ever played against Whitefish. He took his opponent out of his game and returned everything he hit to him," Gordon explained.

The Maidens picked up two wins in a 5-2 dual loss to the Lady Bulldogs. Seri Smith and Brianna Frank cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win at number one doubles, while Courville and Sarah Anderson teamed up to win at number two doubles 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

"Sarah and Taylir teamed up to play well together, as did Seri and Brianna," Cummings noted.

Katelyn Matkovich also narrowly lost at number three singles. She dropped the first set 2-6, then battled back to win the second set 7-6 with a 7-1 tiebreaker. Unfortunately, she dropped the match tiebreaker 7-2. 

The Ronan girls won a 4-3 dual over Eureka on Saturday. All three Maidens doubles teams won their matches — Leo and Matkovich (6-5, 6-2), Smith and Frank (6-0, 6-2), and Bujinikham Chinzorig and Kylee Pennington (6-0, 6-1). Freshman Jonelle Lauer also won her number four singles match 6-3, 6-2.

"They really needed this win to give them some confidence," Cummings said.

On Monday in Columbia Falls, Ronan's boys lost 6-1 and the girls were swept 7-0.

Leo and Cheff won at number one doubles 7-5, 6-1, while Smith and Sucha lost a three-setter at number two doubles 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In girls play, Metzger opened strong but lost the number one singles match, dropping a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 match to Gabrielle Stenger. Frank and Smith also lost a three-set match at number two doubles 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

"Amber is playing well at number one, even though she is not winning," coach Cummings said. "On Monday at C. Falls she went three sets against her opponent, but lost in the end. She is improving as she takes instruction well and wants to learn."

He added that his girls' team gains valuable experience with each match.

"The inexperience of the girls showed against the more seasoned teams. Polson is very strong and will be tough at divisionals," the coach said, though he's obviously encouraged by his girl's continued development. 

Cummings also liked seeing Cheff and Leo step up their play over the week.

"Colten and Jeff had a great weekend, winning all three of their matches. They are ahead of where they were last year," the coach noted. "As seniors they are making good decisions on the court that puts them into position to win points."

On Friday, Ronan hosts Stevensville at noon and Columbia Falls at 3 p.m. Then on Saturday, Ronan's tennis team travels to Libby, followed by a trip to Bigfork on Monday.




Polson 6, Ronan 1

Singles - Matt Roberts, P, def. Austin Butler, 6-0, 6-1; Hayden Congdon, P, def. Spencer Sucha, 6-2, 6-2; Christian McCurdy, P, def. Jess Smith, 6-2, 6-0; Andrew Storro, P, def. Michael Elliott, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles - Shad Giles/Justin Evertz, P, def. Austin Butler/Hunter Shima, 6-1, 6-3; Jeff Leo/Colten Cheff, R, def. Will Davey/Ian Laimbeer, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3; Reed Hovenkotter/Sam Peel, P, def. Joe Dresen/Tallon Fortin, 6-0, 6-1.


Bigfork 5, Ronan 2

Singles - Evan Jordt, B, def. Colten Cheff, 6-2, 6-0; Hunter Shima, R, def. Ryan Gembala, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7); Dylan Riechenback, B, def. Spencer Sucha, 6-0, 6-0; John Lyon, B, def. Jess Smith, 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles - Bridger Mahlum/Colter Mahlum, B, def. Austin Butler/Hunter Shima, 6-4, 6-3; Colten Cheff/Jeff Leo, R, def. Nate Roberson/Seth Roessman, 6-3, 6-3; Shane Parks/Colter Trent, B, def. Tallon Fortin/Joe Dresen, 6-4, 6-2.

Whitefish 4, Ronan 3

Singles - Austin Butler, R, def. Francisco Valle, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4; Austin Sattler, W, def. Jeff Leo, 6-3, 6-4; Joel Bacher, W, def. Joe Dresen, 6-0, 6-1; Connor Ellis, W, def. Tallon Fortin, 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles - Joel Mallams/Jake Morrison, W, def. Austin Butler/Hunter Shima 6-2, 6-2; Jeff Leo/Colten Cheff, R, def. Nick Jack/Casey Beiser, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6); Jess Smith/Spencer Sucha, R, def. Konner Hopewell/Cody Ling, 6-2, 6-1.


Columbia Falls 6, Ronan 1

Singles - Vadim Zvygelskiy, CF, def. Austin Butler, 6-4, 6-2; Parker Johnson, CF, def. Hunter Shima, 6-0, 6-0; Miroslav Zvygelskiy, CF, def. Payton Adams, 6-0, 6-1; Brian Marcille, CF, def. Michael Elliott, 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles - Jeff Leo/Colten Cheff, R, def. Jon Riffey/Tim Spencer, 7-5, 6-1; Nick Emerson/Nathan Carr, CF, def. Jess Smith/Spencer Sucha, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2; Jordan Mueller/John Woody, CF, def. Tallon Fortin/Joe Dresen, 6-1, 6-1.



Polson 7, Ronan 0

Singles - Jane Probst, P, def. Amber Metzger, 6-1, 6-0; Erika Nunlist, P, def. Sarah Anderson, 6-0, 6-0; Josie Benedetti, P, def. Taylir Courville, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4; Karmen Borchers, P, def. Jonelle Lauer, 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles - Kayla Rochin/Kendyall Rochin, P, def. Darian Leo/Katelyn Matkovich, 6-1, 6-0; Jordan Quinn/ Audra Engebretson, P, def. Brianna Frank/Seri Smith, 6-2, 6-2; Mackenzie Clay/Whitney Zimmerman, P, def. Kylee Pennington/Angela Mousisyan, 6-0, 6-0.


Bigfork 7, Ronan 0

Singles - Jade Bosic, B, def. Amber Metzger, 6-3, 6-1; Kelly Deaton, B, def. Sarah Anderson, 6-2, 6-1; Carolina Tietzel, B, def. Taylir Courville, 6-2, 6-0; McKenna Gembala, B, def. Tashina Barnaby, 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles - Hannah Barrett/Clair Wilken, B, def. Darian Leo/Katelyn Matkovich, 6-4, 6-2; Ariel Stallknecht/Kianna Wicklund, B, def. Seri Smith/Brianna Frank, 7-5, 6-1; Emily Hardman/McKenzie Shults, B, def. Jonelle Lauer/Angela Mousisyan, 6-0, 6-0.


Whitefish 5, Ronan 2

Singles - Merideth Reed, W, def. Amber Metzger, 6-2, 6-3; Anne Miller, W, def. Darian Leo, 6-0, 6-0; Courtney Wilder, W, def. Katelyn Matkovich, 6-2, 6-7 (7-1), (7-2); Kendall Sattler, W, def. Tashina Barnaby, 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles - Seri Smith/Brianna Frank, R, def. Tara Sullivan/Alexa Holliday, 6-2, 6-1; Taylir Courville/Sarah Anderson, R, def. Lindsey Viscomi/Lauren Cain, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2); Ryan Chamner/Haley Craven, W, def. Jonelle Lauer/Kylee Pennington, 6-1, 6-4.


Ronan 4, Eureka 3

Singles - Casey Strong, E, def. Amber Metzger, 6-4, 6-1; Karina Hofstee, E, def. Sarah Anderson, 6-3, 6-2; Angela Bailey, E, def. Taylir Courville, 6-4, 6-0; Jonelle Lauer, R, def. April Muller, 6-3, 6-2.

Doubles - Darian Leo/Katelyn Matkovich, R, def. Shannon Stein/Shelby Taurman, 6-4, 6-2; Seri Smith/Brianna Frank, R, def. Jessica Tullis/Ashley Brown, 6-0, 6-2; Bujinikham Chinzorig/Kylee Pennington, R, def. Elsie Gardner/Stevie Sorenson, 6-0, 6-1.


Columbia Falls 7, Ronan 0

Singles - Gabrielle Stenger, CF, def. Amber Metzger, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1; Natalie Law, CF, def. Taylir Courville, 6-4, 6-2; Tami Kolatschek, CF, def. Sarah Anderson, 6-0, 6-0, Elena Potter, CF, def. Jonelle Lauer, 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles - Lexie Bartoski/Marissa Getts, CF, def. Katelyn Matkovich/Darian Leo, 6-1, 6-2; Franki Anderson/Pepper Borland, CF, def. Seri Smith/Brianna Frank, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3; Shay Grilley/Krystal Bedford, CF, def. Tashina Barnaby/Kylee Pennington, 6-0, 6-0.

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