Girls' team, Staiger are state champs
By Eric Killelea
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
The Dawson County High School girls tennis team won the Class A state tournament on Friday when senior Ceeara Staiger beat Cassie Carlye of Polson to complete a stunning 6-2, 6-4, comeback win.
Staiger dropped her racket and started to cry after her victory at Flathead Valley Community College. Her grandfather, DCHS head coach Rich Lindgren, hugged her on the court and asked the former doubles player,
“Do you know why I put you in singles?” When she could not say, he answered, “It’s because I wanted you to prove to everyone that you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Staiger smiled when remembering the moment with her grandfather, her “best friend” who spent the season giving her “the best advice possible” that kept her “calm in very stressful situations.”
Staiger, who placed second and third in previous state tournaments alongside former doubles partner Marenah Crockett, went undefeated this season winning both the divisional and state championships. In her final match, she felt a mixture of confidence and nervousness. She was down 3-0 in the second set, but began telling herself, “Keep it up. Keep pushing through. One point at a time,” Staiger said.
She rallied to 4-3 and then 5-4 to eventually win the match. “It was really important for me to win. I wanted to prove that I could do it, especially for my coaches, mom and grandpa.”
With the win, Staiger becomes DCHS’s fifth girl in the past 50 years to win the state singles championship and joins the exclusive ranks of alumni Bridgid Malee, Katie Malee, Sara Nelson and Morgan Opp.
“Long baseline rallies and opportune drop shots for passing shots and lobs coupled with an occasional strong service ace would describe the pattern of play for Ceeara,” Lindgren wrote in email.
Staiger, who once again dominated singles play crushing Emma Putnam of Billings Central, 6-0, 6-0, to reach the championship match, earned 16 singles team points over the weekend.
Katrielle Carney and Abby Hill defeated Lisa Cai and Maddie Flamm of Hardin, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, to stay alive in the tournament. With a half hour break, Carney and Hill returned to the court to beat Olivia Hewson and Kyler Lundeen of Polson, 6-4, 7-5, in the consolation semifinals, before outplaying Kenna Adolph and Blayne Meyers of Billings Central, 6-4, 7-5, to place third in the tournament. The doubles team scored 10 doubles team points toward the 26 total needed to win a state title as co-champions with Billings Central.
It was a sunny, cool morning, the second day of the tournament, when DCHS senior Jory Opp stepped onto the 12-court site at the college and defeated Eric Holdhusen of Whitefish, 6-4, 7-6 (1), and then took down Colin Kenney of Polson, 5-3, 6-4, to reach the consolation finals.
“With his steady baseline rallies he forced his opponents to move to the net but Jory’s precision passing shots soon bounced both Eric and Colin from the tourney,” Lindgren wrote. Opp went on to beat Dillon Rakich of Dillon, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch third place in the state tournament.
Opp placed fifth in singles as a freshman and took second alongside alumni Josh Hoffer last year and too third with partner Dennis Berg as a sophomore. Opp and Michael Hopfauf scored 11 points over the weekend to earn a 6th place team finish at the state tournament.
Before heading back to Glendive, coach Tami Staiger made good on a bet: If the girls won the state title she would jump into the cold waters of Flathead Lake. As promised, she paid her dues and leaped into the waters only to be followed by both the girls and boys team members for a brief, chilly swim.
State A Tennis
Class A State Tournament
Friday at Flathead Valley Community College, Kalispell
Team scores: Billings Central 20, Hardin 17, Dillon 16, Havre 14, Polson 12, Glendive 11, Belgrade 7, Whitefish 6, Livingston 2, Lewistown 2, Butte Central 2.
Semifinals: Simon Marshall, Billings Central, def. Colin Kenney, Polson, 6-2, 6-1; Alex Raymond, Hamilton, def. Jeff Fournier, Belgrade, 6-1, 6-4.
Championship: Marshall def. Raymond 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Loser out, Third Round: Jory Opp, Glendive, def. Eric Holdhusen, Whitefish, 7-5, 6-1; Bradley Rakich, Dillon, def. Danyon Rice, Lewistown, 6-3, 6-1.
Fourth Round: Opp def. Kenney 6-3, 6-4; Rakich def. Fournier 6-2, 6-3.
Fifth Place: Fournier def. Kenney 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Third Place: Opp def. Rakich 6-3, 6-2.
Semifinals: Darnell Lefthand/Michael Neeser, Hardin, def. Matt Sitter/Cadis Chowning, Polson, 6-3. 6-4; Jake Sedahl/Nate Korb, Havre, def. Deven Doughty/Christian Stradley, Miles City, 6-3, 6-4.
Championship: Lefthand/Neeser def. Sedahl/Korb 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).
Loser out, Third Round: Todd Nordahl/Kyson Wilson, Dillon, def. Jet Campbell/Andrew Nelson, Billings Central, 6-3, 6-1; Jaron Morgan/Kaiden Forman-Webster, Polson, def. Cairo Morton/Jake Pankratz, Billings Central, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Fourth Round: Nordahl/Wilson def. Sitter/Chowning 7-5, 6-4; Doughty/Stradley def. Morgan/Forman-Webster 6-0, 6-1.
Fifth Place: Sitter/Chowning def. Morgan/Forman-Webster 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Third Place: Doughty/Stradley def. Nordahl/Wilson 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Team scores: Glendive 26,, Billings Central 26, Dillon 20, Polson 18, Whitefish 15, Hardin 12, Corvallis 5, Belgrade 3, Butte Central 2, Columbia Falls 1, Lewistown 1, Stevensville 1.
Semifinals: Ceeara Staiger, Glendive, def. Emma Putnam, Billings Central, 6-0, 6-0; Cassie Carlyle, Polson, def. Paint Intasuk, Whitefish, 7-5, 6-4.
Championship: Staiger def. Carlyle 6-2, 6-4.
Loser out, Third Round: Madisan Chavez, Hardin, def. Hannah Madsen, Whitefish, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1; Olivia Fehr, Corvallis, def. Mariah McClure, Dillon, 6-2, 6-1.
Fourth Round: Chavez def. Putnam 6-4, 6-3; Intasuk def. Fehr 6-0, 6-2.
Fifth Place: Putnam def. Fehr 6-4, 6-2.
Third Place: Intasuk def. Chavez 6-3, 6-2
Semifinals: Hailey Keller/Molly Putnam, Billings Central, def. Olivia Hewston/Kyler Lundeen, Polson, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6); Tessa Sawyer/Adrianne Southam, Dillon, def. Kenna Adolph/Blayne Meyer, Billings Central, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Championship: Sawyer/Southam def. Keller/Putnam 6-3, 6-4.
Loser out, Third Round: Katrielle Carney/Abby Hill, Glendive, def. Lisa Cai/Maddie Flamm, Hardin, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3; Paige Sproul/Cailyn Ross, Whitefish, def. Abigail Wierda/Paige Stokke, Belgrade, 6-3, 6-3.
Fourth Round: Adolph/Meyer def. Sproul/Ross 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; Carney/Hill def. Hewston/Lundeen 6-4, 6-3.
Fifth Place: Hewston/Lundeen def. Sproul/Ross 6-0, 6-4.
Third Place: Carney/Hill def. Adolph/Meyer 6-4, 7-5.