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Polson girls prepare to defend divisional tennis title, boys ready to notch it up

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POLSON — Spring has been kind so far to a Polson tennis squad that is itching to get back into competitive matches. The warm weather has given Polson players plenty of opportunity to work out the winter kinks and get ready for another competitive season on the courts.

Last year's Lady Pirates squad was the Northwestern A Divisional champs, while the boys placed third. Both teams lost some good athletes, but head coach Bob Hislop, who is in his 18th year coaching Polson tennis, has lots of good players returning, plus plenty of new talent.

"We have a lot of tradition and depth in the girls ... (and) strong senior leadership and a great group of first-year players in the boys," Hislop said. "We lost five good girls to transfer or graduation and we feel we will be able to fill those spots with solid sophomores."

Polson has been dominant in the conference in doubles play, sending two or more teams to state three consecutive years and winning the doubles title at divisionals the last four years, as well as six of the previous seven years. Polson also won state in 2008 by capturing first and second in doubles.

Senior Jane Probst was a divisional singles runner-up last year and has put in a ton of hours in camps, tournaments, lessons and just playing. She should be a state contender this year, her coach said.

Senior Kayla Rochin will probably team back up with sister Kendyall, a junior, in doubles this year. The pair were divisional champs and sixth at state last year.

"Kayla has put a lot of time into her game and will play doubles again," Hislop noted. "Kendyall will play more singles this year, but will probably finish the season playing doubles with her sister again."

Seniors Kelsie Howell and Erika Nunlist return to the court, too. Howell has worked hard at her game all off-season and will probably play doubles, while Nunlist should play singles.

"Erika has improved a lot from last season ... very steady ground strokes," Hislop said.

Matt Roberts, a senior, will lead the Polson boys' squad.

"He'll play number one singles for us," Hislop explained. "He has played a lot in the off-season and will be a contender for the divisional crown." 

Shad Giles, another senior, can play singles or doubles this year. Last year he placed third in singles at divisionals.

"Shad has spent an amazing number of hours on his game in the off-season. We will play him at singles and doubles and see what works best for the team," his coach said.

Hislop considers junior Justin Evertz to be the best athlete on the team and will play number one doubles this year. 

Senior Christian McCurdy is a very steady and smart singles player, according to Hislop, and junior Andrew Storro has also played a lot in the off-season and will play singles this year.

"We have more athletes in this year's new crop of kids than we have had for a long time," Hislop noted.

Hislop expects Polson and Libby to lead the conference in the girls' competition, while Libby and Columbia Falls will head up the boys' competition. Polson was supposed to open the season Tuesday by hosting Ronan, which has returned to the Northwestern A this year. But Ronan backed out of the dual on Monday.

"I look forward to seeing how the young girls do in the varsity competition. I think they will really surprise people," Hislop said. "It will be very interesting in boys (play) to see which new players step in and take varsity spots — it will be a very intense competition."

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