Paw Print

Katie Hayder and Kinzee Howey became the first-ever state qualifiers for Three Forks after placing third as a doubles team at divisional.

The duo rode that momentum into the state Class B/C tournament and finished in the top 12 Thursday after posting a 3-2 record in Missoula.

Wolves head coach Janna Lauver noted they played some of their best games and matches of their career.

“They were completely in tune with each other, playing teams they had not met before and really perfecting their long games,” Lauver said. “We are so proud of them.”

Three Forks’ No. 1 doubles team began the tournament by rallying to beat a tandem from Baker, Grahman and Barkey, in three sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

“After learning their opponents style of play, our team was able to learn and change our look to get the winning matches,” said Lauver.

But Hayder and Howey lost in the second round to Rosenbaum and Wilson from Fairfield 3-6, 2-6. Lauver noted that facing the Eagles’ No. 1 doubles team for the first time was a challenge.

“They had an amazing long match with lots of long volley games, but just couldn’t take them down this year,” she added.

They bounced back on Day 2 to win a pair of consolation matches before the season came to an end. It began with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against St. Ignatius/Mission’s Morigeau and Frost.

“Another team with a different style of play,” said Lauver. “Howey and Hayder really synced up and were able to get some great angle shots from the net to win. Both girls had amazing serves this match.”

Then the duo defeated another unfamiliar pair in Townsend’s Bird and Collins in a tie-breaker, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7). It was the first time they had been pitted against the Bulldogs’ No. 2 team.

“Our team knew what they need to do and how to play to get the job done, and they showed incredible patience and skill on the court,” said Lauver.

Hayder and Howey capped the tournament with a loss to Fort Benton’s Vielleux and Wang 6-7 (4-7) 4-6.

“We had so many long volleys and rally back points. There were incredible serves from both girls, net shots and recovery points,” said Lauver. “Both girls hit the wall-dividers recovering long high bounce returns. Despite a lot of unforced errors, what they accomplished that day was some really smart tennis against great opponents.”

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