HELENA — Helena High boys and girls varsity tennis is preparing for divisional at the end of the week and hopefully, the state tournament next week.
“Preparing for divisionals… I'm just getting myself ready. Physically, I've got some lessons that I do at the club here in town with the head pro there. His name's Kyle Wilson. He's a super awesome guy. And so I work with him, I come out to practice every day ready to work, and then just prepare myself mentally as well. Because I gotta be in the mindset to work hard and be ready to fight for a win,” said Helena High 1 singles player Will Johnson.
Similarly to Johnson, girls first singles Qayl Kujala knows she’ll have to fight for her spot at state.
“Bozeman is always tough. Bozeman is always good. So I'm really looking out for them. And don't overlook anyone,” she said.
For Helena High’s boys 1 doubles team their wins come when they have fun.
“I think mostly just as long as we're having fun on the court. We'll play a lot better with each other,” Karson Stefaniak said.
“It's a lot about the mental game, like what I've just covered because we can play really terribly, or we can play really well. And it really depends on how we're feeling on that day or like, I guess how we've prepared mentally for the game,” added partner Erik Callery.
Head coach Nicole Riebe shares a similar sentiment to her doubles team when it comes to her talks in the huddle.
“You're really just telling your team we have so many seniors. We graduated 14 seniors this year, so several of them have been first year players as well. It's just been a great opportunity for them to try something new, have some fun hanging out with their friends and so it's just really hanging on to those memories and having fun with your friends. The last thing is this next week and into next week. State two is just have fun, be great teammates and just be proud of what you learn this season and of the accomplishments you had as a tennis player. Whether you were just a first year player, whether you've been a bangle tennis player for four years, just be proud of what you did and accomplished throughout your career,” she said.
Her advice for her team is to be confident in their abilities.
“The biggest thing for the players is really to just stay mentally focused not to look ahead, you got to stay in that match, you got to just worry about what you can control on the court. And so they have the skills they know what they need to do is just a matter of having that confidence and being, you know, sure of themselves when they step on the court,” she said.
Though the divisional and state tournament haven’t started yet, she’s already proud of her team and their season.
“I think one of the proudest moments that we've had as a team this season has really come in the support of everybody staying and watching each other helping their teammates, and especially in practices we've got everybody going around helping each other just trying to get better. And so it's not any one particular thing that are particular magnets, actually those things that are happening off the court where they're teammates which eat with each other, and they're hanging out, and they're just having so much fun. It's a special time for them, and it's a great opportunity to kind of get some normalcy.”
The divisional tournament begins Thursday and will be hosted by Helena Capital.