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Whitefish girls runner-up to Polson at tennis divisionals

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | May 26, 2021 1:00 AM

It may not have been a perfect couple of days for tennis weather-wise, but the Whitefish girls made the most of it.

Fighting through a cold snap that included high wind and variable rainy conditions, the Lady Bulldogs came away with a second place finish at the Northwestern A Tennis Divisional Tournament in Polson, which started in the afternoon on Wednesday and ran through Friday.

“One of the big stories from the tournament this year was the weather — it was incredibly frigid, windy… it was just unbelievable,” Whitefish girls tennis coach Patrick Dryden recalled.

Bulldog senior standout Gracie Smyley lived up to the expectations put on her as the No. 1 seed in the tournament. She never lost even a game throughout the tournament and defeated Columbia Falls’ Hannah Schweikert in the championship match to become the girls singles divisional champion.

“Grace has had an incredible year and she’s going to be heading into the state tournament 20-0, but that really doesn’t tell the story,” Dryden expressed. “She’s played an outstanding schedule — she’s beaten Hannah Schweikert from Columbia Falls three times, Eliana Foss of Hamilton twice and Madeline DeLeo of Corvallis twice; those are the top players in the state, plus throw in a couple of victories against Flathead and Glacier.

“She’s ready, she’s ready for the competition,” he added.

Smyley’s performance helped Whitefish earn 46 points which scored them just below Polson’s 55 points. The Lady Pirates came away with the divisional title this year and took the top three places in the doubles competition which gave them the edge.

“Polson has an incredible group, I’ve been saying that all year long,” Dryden said. “They’ve got six seniors that have been on varsity since they were freshmen. This was their year, they’re a strong team.”

But he also expressed Whitefish had a great showing at divisionals as well with four players qualifying for state. Those athletes include Smyley and Lauren Brown for singles and the team of Ali Hirsch and Tallory Workman for doubles.

“On the whole, I’m really pleased that we’ve got four kids going to state,” he said.

Whitefish’s Anyah Cripe was the No. 2 singles player for Whitefish and the third seed in the tournament, but she had a tough draw facing her teammate Smyley in the semifinals. After Smyley defeated her, Cripe then had to play against another teammate — Lauren Brown. Coach Dryden said that match went on for three hours and it came down to just a few pivotal points to decide who was headed to state and whose season was over.

“That was just so difficult and of course it was a coach’s nightmare because they played through almost three hours; it went to a third set tiebreaker and came down to one or two points,” Dryden said of the Cripe-Brown consolation semifinal match. “Anyah’s going to be going (to state) as an alternate; she’s got a very bright future ahead of her but that was a difficult way for the season to end.”

Brown played her heart out at divisionals as well and earned a fourth-place finish which is enough to advance her to the state tournament. A highlight for Brown was taking the first set off of Wildkat Schweikert during a quarterfinal match. Brown lost 3-6, 6-0, 6-1, but it was still exciting for her to get a set according to Dryden.

“Lauren Brown had an outstanding tournament,” he said. “That’s the first time Hannah’s lost a set to anyone not named Grace Smyley. So that was quite an accomplishment and gave Lauren a lot of confidence.”

As for doubles, Whitefish’s No. 1 pair of Hirsch and Workman did just what they needed to in order to qualify for state. The duo ran into issues facing Polson’s No. 2 and No. teams, but knocked off teams from Libby and Ronan. This included a must-win victory over Ronan’s Aaliyah Decker and Alyssa PrettyOnTop — 6-2, 6-4.

The Hirsch-Workman combo then lost in the third-place match to Polson’s No. 2 doubles team 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Dryden says they were within a point of getting third place as they had match point at 5-3 in the third set but couldn't put it away.

“Even though Ali and Tallory are going in as the No. 4, that’s really misleading because they have beaten four or five teams that are in the tournament already,” Dryden said of the team headed to state. “They need to understand that they can go a very long way in this tournament (state).”

The Class A State Tennis Tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday and go through Friday in Laurel.

Northwestern A Divisional Tennis

Saturday

Team scores — Polson 55, Whitefish 46, Libby 23, Columbia Falls 20, Ronan 12.

Singles

Semifinal

Gracie Smyley (WF) d. Anyah Cripe (WF) 6-0. 6-3. Hannah Schweikert (CF) d. Laneigha Zeiler (L) 6-1, 6-0.

Consolation Quarterfinals

Sierra Lundeen (P) d. Sarah Kinzel (P) 7-5. 6-4. Lauren Brown (WF) d. Skyler Shima (R) 7-5, 6-2.

Consolation Semifinals

Laneigha Zeiler (L) d. Sierra Lundeen (P) 6-4, 6-4. Lauren Brown (WF) d. Anyah Cripe

(WF) 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.

Championship

Gracie Smyley (WF) d. Hannah Schweikert (CF) 6-4, 6-0.

Third/Fourth place

Laneigha Zeiler (L) d. Lauren Brown (WF) 6-4, 7-5.

Doubles

Semifinals

Berkley Ellis/Qia Harlan (P) d. Alyssa Decker/Aaliyah PrettyOnTop (R) 6-2, 6-0. Taylor Collinge/Clara Todd (P) d. Ara Mercer/Megan Rost (P) 6-4, 6-3.

Consolation Quarterfinals

Ali Hirsch/Tallory Workman (WF) d. Pierce/Cunningham (L) 6-4, 6-1. Erickson/Martin (L) d. Emma Trieweiler/Ashley Gunset (WF) 6-2, 6-2.

Consolation Semifinals

Hirsch/Workman (WF) d. Decker/ PrettyOnTop (R) 6-2, 6-4. Mercer/Rost (P) d. Erickson/Martin (L) 6-3, 6-3.

Championship

Ellis/Harlan (P) d. Collinge/Todd (P) 6-2, 6-0.

Third/Fourth place

Mercer/Rost (P) d. Hirsch/Workman (WF) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Friday

Singles

Round 1

Bella Covington (L) d. Courtney Bourdon (R) 6-0, 6-4. Elizabeth Tolley (P)

D. Abbey Biehl (CF) 6-2, 6-0. Gabby Fantozzi (L) d. Lainey Racine (R) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. Gracie Smyley (WF) d. Courtney Bourdon (R) 6-0, 6-0. Sarah Kinzle (P) d. Lillian McDonald (CF) 6-1, 6-3; Sierra Lundeen (P) d. MacKenzie Nelson (CF) 6-2, 6-0. Anyah Cripe (WF) d. Macey Halvorson (CF) 6-0, 6-0. Skyler Shima (R) vs. Elizabeth Tolley (P) 6-0, 6-0; Laneigha Zeiler (L) d. Emma Shaffer (WF) 6-2, 6-0. Lauren Brown (WF) vs. Katelyn Smith (P) 6-0, 6-0. Hannah Schweikert (CF) d. Gabby Fantozzi (L) 6-0. 6-0.

Consolation Round 1

Gabby Fantozzi (L) d. Bella Covington (L) 6-3, 6-3. Abbey Biel (CF) d. Macey Halvorson (L) 6-7(4-7), 6-4, 6-2. Courtney Bourdon (R) d. Lainey Racine (R) 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.

Quarterfinals

Gracie Smyley (WF) d. Sarah Kinzle (P) 6-0, 6-2. Anyah Cripe (WF) d. Sierra Lundeen (P) 0-6, 6-3, 6-1. Laneigha Zeiler (L) d. Skyler Shima (R) 6-3, 6-4; Hannah Schweikert (CF) d. Lauren Brown (WF) 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Consolation Round 2

Katelyn Smith (P) d. Gabby Fantozzi (L) 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). Elizabeth Tollley (P) d. Emma Shaffer (WF) 6-1, 7-5; MacKenzie Nelson (CF) vs. Abbey Biehl (CF)6-2, 6-2. Lillian McDonald (CF) d. Courtney Bourdon (R) 6-4, 6-2.

Consolation Round 3

Sierra Lundeen (P) d. Katelyn Smith (P) 6-1, 6-3. Sarah Kinzel (P) d. Elizabeth Tolley (P) 6-1, 6-3. Lauren Brown (WF) d. Abbey Biehl (CF) 6-0, 6-0. Skyler Shima (R) d. Lillian McDonald (CF) 6-0, 6-2.

Doubles

Round 1

Trieweiler/Gunset (WF) d. Crockett/Lybbert (CF) 6-0, 6-0. Erickson/Martin (L) d. Williams/McAtee (CF) 6-1, 6-2. Decker/PrettyOnTop (R) d. Oehlerich/Tremper (WF) 6-4, 6-1; Hirsch/Workman (WF) d. Thorstenson/Andreessen (L) 6-1, 6-1. Collinge/Todd (P) d. Gedlaman/Ramage (CF) 6-4, 6-3. Pierce/Cunnigham (L) d. Perry/Howard (R) 6-0, 6-0.

Consolation Round 1

Oehlerich/Tremper (WF) d. Williams/McAtee (CF) 6-3, 6-3. Gedlaman/Ramage (CF) d. Thorstenson/Andreessen (L) 6-0, 6-1.

Quarterfinals

Ellis/Harlan (P) d. Trieweiler/Gunset (WF) 6-2, 6-0. Decker/PrettyOnTop (R) d. Erickson/Martin (L) 6-3, 6-2. Collinge/Todd (P) d. Hirsch/Workman (WF) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Mercer/Rost (P) d. Pierce/Cunnigham (L) 6-0, 6-1.

Consolation Round 2

Pierce/Cunnigham (L) d. Crockett/Byrd (CF) 6-0, 6-1. Hirsch/Workman (WF) d. Oehlerich/Tremper (WF) 6-3, 6-2. Erickson/Martin (L) d. Gedlaman/Ramage (CF) 6-2, 6-2. Trieweiler/Gunset (WF) vs Perry/Howard

photo

Lady Bulldog Gracie Smyley runs to hit a short backhand slice during the championship match against Wildkat Hannah Schweikert at the Northwestern A Tennis Divisional Tournament in Polson on Friday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)