Sophomore Rory Smith won three tiebreakers in his final two matches and swept Bozeman freshman Connor Joly in the finals to win the boys singles state championship at the Class AA state tournament on May 17 in Great Falls.
Smith is just the second Glacier boy ever to win a state singles title, joining Kellen Bates, who won four straight championships from 2010-13.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore was resilient and poised during the tournament’s two decisive matches, avenging a loss from earlier this year in the semis when he beat Missoula Sentinel’s Ethan Violette 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 7-6 (7-4). Smith trailed Violette in all three sets and was down 4-1 in the third before rallying to reach Friday’s championship match. Joly, who had not lost all year coming into the tournament, swept through his first three tournament tilts and led Smith 6-5 in the first set before the Glacier sophomore rallied back once again to close out the title 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
“(Smith)’s mental toughness is a great weapon for him,” Glacier coach Josh Munro said. “He stays calm, he can make adjustments and he knows when to go for it and when to dial it back a little bit. To his credit, he plays some of the longest matches and more three-set matches than almost anybody in the state … His opponents are just blasting balls and he’s able to make adjustments and change his game, which makes it difficult on opponents.”
Smith finished fifth in the state as a freshman, and he won his second straight Northern AA Divisional title last week in Kalispell. Smith and Joly had met several times before in United States Tennis Association competitions but had never met during the high school season before Friday’s match, which was played indoors because of rain.
Glacier will bring home a second trophy from Great Falls as well, as senior Maria Frampton claimed third place for the second year in a row. Frampton was bitten by her draw for the second straight year as well, matching up with the eventual state champion in the semifinals, this time Maicy McCarty of Bozeman. McCarty dropped Frampton 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday, but the Glacier senior bounced back to beat Sentinel’s Kirsten Kraske early Friday morning and sweep Great Falls CMR’s Gail Parambi 6-2, 6-2 in the third-place match.