HS Tennis: Stradley, Doughty take 3rd in state

The “who knows after that?” preview quote of the boys doubles at the State Class A Tennis Tournament made Scott Rapson somewhat of a prophet.

Contacted prior to the long trip to Whitefish, the Custer County District High School coach said the semifinals were reachable for his two qualifiers — Christian Stradley and Deven Doughty.

Mission accomplished.

After a 540-mile journey, the road warriors stayed in Bozeman last Tuesday before traveling to the tournament site Wednesday for some practice.

Then came two victories in the 16-team bracket Thursday. The Stradley-Doughty tandem, who also had CCDHA graduation on their minds, opened with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jaron Morgan and Kaiden Forman-Webster of Polson.

“They were pretty focused,” Rapson said. “We kind of handily beat Polson and had a great challenge from Dillon. We attacked them at the net and they may have gotten a little frustrated.

“It was a real battle in the third set, but they ended up sealing it with an overhead by Christian. At that point they were playing their best tennis of the season.”

It took three sets for Stradley and Doughty to get past previously undefeated Todd Nordahl and Kyson Wilson of Dillon 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.

That put them into the semifinals, where they lost 6-3, 6-4 to the Havre team of Jake Sedahl and Nate Korb.

“We had seen them (in Glendive) and they’re a big-serving team,” Rapson said. “A lot of their points are won on huge serves and finishing with a volley — if you make the returns.

“We played a lot on our heels; just weren’t making our shots.”

That meant playing in the consolation bracket, meaning the best they could do was place third.

Mission accomplished.

First they defeated Morgan and Forman-Webster again — 6-0, 6-1. “We really went at them, playing super-aggressive,” Rapson said.

In the third-place match, the Miles City seniors once again beat Nordahl-Wilson 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

“It was kind of up and down,” Rapson said. “We had great moments and some lapses. We were holding on at times and went on the attack at the end.

“At the end of the day we were just a better team.”

Meanwhile, a familiar twosome from Hardin — Darrell Lefthand and Michael Neese — went undefeated in becoming state champions. They were 4-0 this season against Stradley and Doughty, then capped the 2017 season with a tie-breaker victory — 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) — over Havre’s Sedahl and Korb in Friday’s finale.

As for graduation, Stradley and Doughty were there, cherishing a lifetime memory of third place at state.

“It was a long trip but, we enjoyed it,” Rapson said.

(Contact Abe Winter at starcity@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)