Glacier High School sophomore Kellen Bates is looking to defend his Class AA singles tennis title this weekend, while his older sister Liana Bates is hoping to finally break through with her first state championship after finishing as the runner-up three straight years.
And as a team, the Glacier girls appear to have the depth and talent to defend their Class AA crown, while the boys will try to improve on their second-place finish.
The Class AA state tennis tournament is held in Great Falls on May 20-21 for both boys and girls. The Class B-C state tourney is also held this weekend, scheduled for May 19-21 in Missoula. The Class A tournament will be in Great Falls on May 26-27.
Kellen Bates won his second straight Northern AA divisional crown last weekend, once again dominating the competition. He beat Flathead’s Glenn Strickler in the championship match 6-0, 6-0. Bates hasn’t lost a match in his two years of high school tennis, nor has he even lost a set.
With the second-place finish, Strickler qualifies for the state tournament. He is Flathead’s only state qualifier. Glacier is sending 14 players to state – seven girls and seven boys, counting both doubles and singles.
Liana Bates, a senior, claimed her first divisional title by defeating teammate Hailey Blalack, a sophomore, 6-2, 7-5. Bates has made it to the championship match the past three years, losing each time.
Ellie Crum of Great Falls High defeated Bates the past two years. Now it appears that Bates’ toughest competition could come from Crum’s younger sister Molly, who won the Western AA divisional title. Bates and Crum are on opposite sides of the bracket, so they could meet in the championship.
There are several other players, however, who could disrupt a Bates-Crum final, including Blalack and Glacier’s other singles qualifier Katya Kulikova. They all have first-round matches on Friday.
In doubles, Glacier’s Cami Mathison and Veronica Walton are trying to defend their state title after defeating teammates Amy Snipstead and Kailea Vaudt in the divisional doubles title match over the weekend. Snipstead and Vaudt also advanced to state.
Joining Kellen Bates at the boys state tournament for Glacier are three doubles teams: Ryan Schmauch and Ryan Edwards; Karl Hellwig and Evan Froystad; and Brandon Simpson and Patrick Phattharaampornchai.
If Glacier’s boys hope to challenge for the state title, they’ll have to get through some stiff competition, including defending champion Missoula Hellgate. Hellgate advanced 11 players to the tournament, including four doubles teams. Their top singles player is Alex Braun, who won the Western AA divisional tournament.
At last year’s state tourney, Hellgate’s doubles teams took all four of the top spots, leading the Knights to an impressive first-place finish. Hellgate scored 49 points, compared to 14 scored by both Billings Senior and Glacier in second place.
Glacier’s girls scored 32 points to win the title, eight more than second-place Great Falls High.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.