Singles star Gracie Smyley concluded her undefeated regular season as the Lady Bulldogs breezed to easy wins over Polson, Hamilton and Corvallis last week.
Smyley finished the regular season 20-0 after putting away all three of her foes last week.
Head coach Patrick Dryden said he’s been impressed with Smyley all season. To win divisionals, she’s going to have to beat the defending state champion Shea McGuinness of Polson, he said.
“She’s been just rock solid all year. It looks like she’s going to have to play the defending state champion in the semi-finals, if things go according to the seeding. But Gracie, she’s beaten her twice, I think she’s really confident,” Dryden said.
At the No. 2 and 3 singles spots, Claire Carloss and Lauren Brown also went undefeated on the weekend.
The No. 2 singles duo of Payton Kastella and Jesse Grawunder won all three of their matches, while the No. 1 team of Olivia Potthoff and Aubrey Hanks went 2-1.
Hanks and Potthoff fell to Polson’s Berkley Ellis and Qia Harlan, 6-4 (6), 6-1, 6-4.
Dryden said he’s looking forward to bringing three competent doubles groups into divisionals and said he’s been hearing compliments from other coaches on the way his duos have been playing together.
“We’re going into the tournament with three really solid doubles teams, and they all have the potential to qualify for state. I’m expecting big things out of those three,” he said.
As a whole, the team finished 15-3 in the regular season and went 8-0 in Northwest A conference play.
Dryden said he’s been pleasantly surprised with how his team performed, especially for being so young this season.
“It was a very solid regular season. Especially how quickly the freshmen have progressed,” he said. “I was really worried about a hole in our lineup but Lauren Brown and Anyah Cripe and Emma Shaffer really filled that void quickly.”
This week the Lady Bulldogs will start their postseason run with the Northwest A Divisional Tournament at Flathead Valley Community College on Thursday and Friday.
The team hosts the state tournament the following week at FVCC.
Competing to the best of his team’s ability is forefront in Dryden’s mind, but concerns over weather are lingering as well, he said.
The forecast for Thursday and Friday show some potential for rain on both days, and rescheduling or shifting the tournament a day in either direction is difficult because of AP testing this week.
Dryden said if worse comes to worst, some matches might have to be played indoors at The Summit or an extra day might be added to divisionals.
Regardless, he says the focus is still on divisionals, then state for his team, and he’s expecting some tough competition.
“It looks like it’s going to be neck-and-neck between Whitefish and Polson. I’ve always said the divisional title is not really one of our goals, it’s getting kids to state, we could win divisionals and have a bad showing at state, or do poorly at divisionals and put on a good showing at state,” he said. “It’s all about getting kids qualified for state.”
Whitefish 6, Polson 1
SINGLES — Gracie Smyley, W, def. Shea McGuinness, 6-1, 6-0; Claire Carloss, W, def. Sarah Kinzle, 6-1, 6-2; Lauren Brown, W, def. Taylor Bloomfield, 6-4, 7-5; Anyah Cripe, W, def. Taylor Collings, 6-4, 6-3.
DOUBLES — Berkley Ellis/Qia Harlan, P, def. Aubrey Hanks/Olivia Potthoff, 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4; Payton Kastella/Jesse Grawunder, W, def. Ara Mercer/Megan Rost, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Abigail Shaffer/Ali Hirsch, W, def. Sierra Lundeen/Ajah Englebreht, 6-0, 6-1.
Whitefish 6, Hamilton 1
SINGLES — Gracie Smyley W, def. Eliana Foss 7-5, 6-2; Claire Carloss W, def. Grace Kemp 6-4 6-1; Lauren Brown W, def. Marcie Wardecka 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (4); Savanna Gurney H, def. Anyah Cripe 2-6 6-3, 1-0 (8).
DOUBLES — Aubrey Hanks/Olivia Potthoff W, def. Holly Mahon/Gracie Hawkes 6-1 6-0; Payton Kastella/Jesse Grawunder W, def. Claire Matthews/Lauren Kimzy 6-2 6-0; Emma Shaffer/Abigail Shaffer W, def. Marie Kanen-Wisher/ Brynn Lehtola 6-1, 7-5.
Whitefish 5, Corvallis 2
SINGLES — Gracie Smyley def. Madeline DeLeo 6-0, 6-4; Claire Carloss W, def. Jennifer Watt 6-2 6-1; Lauren Brown def. Shea Flynn 6-0, 3-0, ret.; Presley Zimmerman C, def. Anyah Cripe 6-0, 0-6, 1-0 (8).
DOUBLES — Potthoff/Hanks W, def. Christina Weibkamp/ Megan Kirkland 6-2, 4-6, 6-1; Peyton Kastella/Jesse Grawunder W, def. Danielle Coates/Cecily Gerber 7-5, 6-3; Molly Powell/Bailey Jessup C, def. Emma Shaffer/Stacia Tremper 6-3, 6-2.