By Bill Foley
Butte Central’s tennis team will open the 2018 season Saturday. Finally.
The Maroons will take on Hamilton in a Southwestern A dual at the Father Sheehan Park Courts. The opener comes three weeks after the Maroons were first scheduled to play matches that count.
BC’s first two duals were the victim of this wintry Montana spring.
“We’ve been practicing about a full month,” fourth-year Butte Central coach Becky Hancock said Friday.
Much of that practice has been inside, though Hancock said her team has had enough outside time to be ready.
Hancock’s Maroons are big in numbers and athletic ability as they finally begin the campaign. Butte Central’s roster features 22 boys and 13 girls. That includes three players — Cameron Johnson, Guido Ossello and Tricia Joyce — who played at the Class A State meet a year ago.
Johnson, a senior, and Ossello, a sophomore, made a run at state in doubles last season. Joyce, a junior, did the same with since-graduated Emily St. John.
While Johnson and Ossello are back for another run, Joyce will move to the singles’ side.
“I really think the boys will make another run at state,” Hancock said. “They are fun to watch.”
That is a label that really fits all of the Maroons.
“The boys and the girls are really athletic,” Hancock said. “I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Ossello will be out of town and unavailable to play in the opener, so senior Hunter Hartwick, who will normally be the No. 3 singles player, will team up with Johnson at the No. 1 doubles spot.
The top two boys’ singles slots will be manned by a pair of foreign exchange students.
Junior Manuel Gonzalez will play No. 1, while sophomore David Innerarity-Granell will play No. 2.
“I’m really looking forward to see what they can do,” Hancock said.
Seniors Logan Harrington and Theron Nelson will round out the singles lineup for the opener.
Seniors Colby Kline and Shane Callahan will play No. 2 doubles, while junior Aidan Petritz will team with sophomore Braden Harrington at No. 3.
Other BC boys who will vie for varsity time are seniors Seamus Andersen, Tash Lester and Noah McGee; juniors Patrick Dolan and Kaden Sehulster; sophomores Max Drew and Coyt Stajcar; and freshmen Phillip Dwyer, John Fisher, Egan Lester and Ryen Walsh.
Joyce will be the No. 1 singles player for the BC girls.
“It’s just a lot better fit for her,” Hancock said of the move from doubles. “She’s quick, and she’s competitive.”
Seniors Zoe Sullivan, Samantha Burton and Savannah Healy will take the Nos. 2 through 4 singles slots.
“They have been out there for four years,” Hancock said of her seniors.
Juniors Shea Davis and Prestynn Weldon will play No. 1 doubles after a strong sophomore campaign for the Maroons.
Tess Riordan will team with fellow sophomore Sophie Sullivan, who is coming off a major hip surgery, at No. 2, and freshmen Delaney Hasquet and Avery Kelly will play No. 3.
Other freshmen looking for court time are Marissa Anderson, Sophia Burton and Mati McGree.
Saturday’s duals will be the first of five home meets for the Maroons. That could be six if the Maroons reschedule one of their snowed-out matches, as expected.
Divisionals will be in Hamilton and Corvallis, and the Class A State meet is May 24-25 in Polson.