Polson Pirates, Lady Pirates continue to improve as MHSA postseason nears

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  • Qia Harlan vs. Maddie Webber of Stevensville in No. 1 girls singles Saturday at Polson. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

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    Anton Lefthand vs. Matthew Hock of Stevensville in No. 1 boys singles Saturday at Polson. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

  • Qia Harlan vs. Maddie Webber of Stevensville in No. 1 girls singles Saturday at Polson. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

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    Anton Lefthand vs. Matthew Hock of Stevensville in No. 1 boys singles Saturday at Polson. (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

Polson High School boys, girls tennis coach Bob Hislop is seeing significant improvement in his young boys team this year, as they continue to progress into the season and towards the Montana High School Class A postseason.

Hislop, who has lost nine MHSA Class A all-state players, admits he is surprised at the Pirates’ rapid progression.

“I’ve seen quite a jump in the ability on what they are doing, based on the fact we are getting better in the season, and it’s so much warmer out,” Hislop said.

Hislop cited the play of Anton Lefthand and Trevor Schultz, two players he has seen make significant improvements throughout the season.

“They really had a quality win when they defeated the Bigfork doubles team, and that is just one of many examples of how they’ve improved this year,” Hislop said.

The other notable improvement has been the better record in the number of wins and losses in the team component of tennis that saw the Pirates improve their record significantly since the start of the season.

“We were at one point 2-6, but now we are 10-7, and way into a winning record,” Hislop said. “Sometimes that depends on who you play, and most of the time depends on how you play.”

Lady Pirates continue to grow as a team

The Polson High girls tennis team, by their own admission, are applying a lot of pressure on themselves after they captured the Montana High School Class A state championship title last year.

The pressure is amplified by the intensity level of the competition in MHSA Class A state tennis. According to Hislop, this crop of players has made every set and every match a difficult contest.

“Some of the teams have moved their best singles players into doubles players, and there are some good players that have left home,” Hislop said. “It’s tough and it’s just one of those things you have to win state with four or five kids. We did it with three but that is pretty unusual. It will be tough to win with three this year.”

The defending MHSA singles champ Shae McGuinness, along with the rest of her young team the senior is leading, continues to showcase improvement as they head into the most critical juncture of the year.

“She’s lost four times this year and in every match, even though the losses are self-inflicted, that is part of the pressure she has to repeat,” Hislop said. “I tell her ‘you only have to worry about that one weekend in May,’ and get through Divisionals to qualify for state. She knows to just go out and play the best she can.”

Hislop’s team has lots of big game experience moving into the postseason and his expectations of his young team remain high.

“We are young, but when you get older, you get more mature physically and mentally and you are able to handle situations better,” Hislop said. “The group of players we have have played volleyball, soccer and basketball. They were thrown into the fire as freshmen and that really bodes well moving forward. We have three to four weeks to improve, and that will be pretty amazing to watch.”

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