By Bill Foley
The way the Butte Central tennis team begins the season could be very much different than they way the Maroons end it.
BC hits the tennis courts for the first time this season Thursday when the Maroons head to Dillon for a 2 p.m. Southwestern A battle with the Beavers.
Like with most sports this spring, BC coach Becky Hancock is facing a great deal of unknown as she sends her time into action. That is because two classes have graduated since the Maroons last played competitive tennis in May of 2019.
“We’re going to test the waters here,” Hancock said. “The year off last year hasn’t helped much. I’ve got a young squad with the girls and a young squad with the boys.”
The year off, of course, came when the entire 2020 spring sports season was washed out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Maroons have 15 girls and three boys out for the team. Of those, seven players have experience playing high school tennis. None of that experience involves the state tournament, however.
The rest of the players are basically new to the game.
“I’m happy with what I’ve got,” Hancock said. “I’d like to see some more boys out. But we’re a small school to begin with.”
The girls’ team includes three varsity seniors in Marissa Anderson, Avery Kelly and Mati McGree. Juniors Sydnie Byrnes, Payton Harwick and Sage Wall played as freshman.
Sophomores Maycee Anderson, Mullanie McElroy, Patience Mitchell, Miranda Murray and Meredith Varady are new are new to the team, as are freshmen Mollie Drew, Kate Johnston, Lucy Kelly and Teyla Williams.
Williams is one of two tennis players who are also competing in track for the Maroons. The other is sophomore boy Trevor Phillips.
Joining Phillips on the BC boys’ roster is junior Drew Badovinac and sophomore Nick Lester. Badovinac played as a freshman.
“It’s a talented roster,” Hancock said. “It’s just hard to predict where they’ll end up in the lineup. There will be a lot of switching.”
That means players who play singles this week could end up in a doubles team. Doubles players could move to singles action.
“They’re working hard, and they’re competitive kids,” Hancock said.
Another switch could see the Maroons play more at Stodden Park instead of Father Sheehan Park, where the courts are deteriorating to the point that a couple could be considered hazardous.
The courts at Stodden Park are brand new. Stodden also offers more courts.
With Butte High again not having any home meets on the schedule, Hancock said she has discussed the move to Stodden, though she said nothing is set just yet.
“I think we’re going try get there for most or all of our meets,” Hancock said.
Butte Central’s first home meet is Saturday when the Maroons take on Livingston in a non-conference dual. They will play host to Stevensville next Tuesday.
In all, BC has six home dates on its schedule. The Western A Divisional tournament will be held May 20-22 in Hamilton and Corvallis. The Class A State tournament is May 27-28 in Billings.