Bulldogs hit tennis court

Butte High’s 60 or so tennis players hit the court for the first live action of the season Friday knowing that they already passed one test.

The Bulldog players survived coach Mavis Bentley’s shoveling camp. The team started with about 70 players before being paired down to 60 who are serious about the sport.

“I weed them out by making them shovel,” the coach said. “They hung in there. We had the courts shoveled in a day and a half.”

With the courts clear, the Bulldogs take on Missoula Big Sky at 1 p.m. Friday. The singles matches will take place at Father Sheehan Park, while the doubles teams will play at Stodden Park.

The Bulldogs, who were hit hard by graduation after last season, enter 2013 with a handful of players with State tournament aspirations and a ton of players getting their feet wet in the sport.

Bentley said about half of her boys and girls out for the squad are sophomores.

On the girls’ side, the Bulldogs’ No. 1 doubles team — senior Kaitlyn Vetter and junior Aidan Amtmann —  is looking to build on a strong 2012 campaign that ended at the Class AA State tournament in Missoula.

Bentley said she is also expecting big things from senior Hallie Howe, who has lettered every year since she was a freshman, and sophomore Molly Nelson on the singles side.

On the boys’ side, senior Kody Lane, who won the city tournament last summer, is the No. 1 singles player. Sophomore Tyler Reilly is No. 2.

Junior Griff Warner will team up with senior Tucker Reilly to make up Butte High’s No. 1 doubles team. Experienced senior Tanner Tregidga will play with newcomer David Starcevich on a team Bentley said has potential.

Starcevich, who had a strong golfing career for the Bulldogs, is a senior who went out for tennis for the first time this year.

“He has picked the game right up,” Bentley said. “I wish he would have played for years.”

Overall, the Bulldogs will start to see just exactly what they have as a team on Friday.

“You don’t know until your first meet,” Bentley said. “They’re a confident group. Kody has a good chance, and I expect my girls team to go back to state. My top players are going to compete, and the others will get some valuable experience.”