Smyley leads Lady Dogs to divisional title

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  • Allie Hirsch plays right at the net during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Claire Carloss returns a Libby serve during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Gracie Smyley fires the ball en route to a divisional title during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

  • Allie Hirsch plays right at the net during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Claire Carloss returns a Libby serve during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Gracie Smyley fires the ball en route to a divisional title during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week at Flathead Valley Community College. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

Led by Gracie Smyley’s singles title and a second place from Olivia Potthoff and Aubrey Hanks, the Lady Bulldogs are divisional champs.

Both the boys and girls teams took divisional titles during the Western A Divisional Tournament last week, the first sweep for Whitefish since 2006.

Smyley has continued her perfect, undefeated season, defeating Columbia Falls’ Hannah Schweikert in a tough title match 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Head coach Patrick Dryden said the match took all Smyley had and more.

“I think every coach wants to see their athletes pushed and she was certainly pushed to her limit and she came out on top, so that’s a perfect scenario,” he said. “She’s just been very consistent and powerful. She hits a really heavy ball, that’s probably the best way to describe it, and I think it’s exhausting playing against her.”

On the way to the title match, Smyley also defeated the defending state champion Shea McGuinness of Polson for the third time this season.

Claire Carloss, Whitefish’s No. 2 singles player missed the cut for state after a tough tournament.

Carloss fell to Jessika Jones of Libby in the second round (2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

“I’ve been coaching for 20 years and this is easily the strongest girls singles field I’ve ever seen,” Dryden said. “She had pretty close to a four hour match that she lost in a third set tiebreaker that ultimately kept her out of state.”

On the doubles side, Dryden said Potthoff and Hanks held a lead in the third set against Polson’s Berkley Ellis and Qia Harlan, but couldn’t put their opponents away.

“They had one match point and I thought they were going to win the match, but you’ve got to hand it to Polson,” he said, noting that his team will also have a target on their back in the state tournament as well. “They kind of surprised everyone last year with their third place finish, but there won’t be any surprise this year because everybody knows who they are. I think they have a pretty tough draw There’s going to be a team or two like Aubrey and Olivia last year that’s going to surprise everybody and make a run. We need to just be confident and let it go, let it flow.”

The doubles team of Payton Kastella and Jesse Grawunder also took fourth, falling to Ara Mercer and Megan Rost 6-3, 6-3.

Dryden also noted the team effort he got from his girls, which is also a younger team with no seniors.

“All 10 players scored at least a point, meaning everybody won at least one match,” he said.

Whitefish sends Smyley, Potthoff, Hanks, Kastella and Grawunder to the state tournament, which starts Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Flathead Valley Community College courts.

Northwestern A Divisional

Team Totals

Whitefish 45, Polson 40, Columbia Falls 20,Libby 17, Ronan 4

Singles

Gracie Smyley, W, def. Hannah Schweikert, CF, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5

Third Place

Shea McGuinness, P, def. Marissa Wood, L, 6-0, 6-0

Doubles

Championship

Berkley Ellis/Qia Harlan, P, def. Aubrey Hanks/Olivia Potthoff, W, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-1)

Third Place

Ara Mercer/Megan Rost, P, def. Peyton Kastella/Jesse Grawunder, W, 6-3, 6-3

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