BILLINGS — Just before she was to take the court for the girls doubles championship at the Eastern AA tennis tournament Friday, Gigi Montague ate a big sugar cookie. Bad move.
A little bit later, during warmups, she lost that cookie. Well, some of it anyway.
Montague isn’t sure if it was the pre-match snack or nerves — maybe a little of both — that caused her to vomit at the back of the court, but she did know she was going to play through it. She and partner Annie Woods had a perfect season going, and Montague wasn’t going to let something like an upset stomach stop things, even if Woods was willing to forfeit for Montague’s benefit.
But with a little bit of willpower and some Tums, everything worked out in the end for Montague and Woods. They upended Bozeman’s Laurel Ward and Sasha Hathaway 6-1, 6-0 to claim the divisional title Friday at Pioneer Park. For her part, Woods ate a doughnut before their match and wasn’t feeling her best, either.
“We have a little different regimen,” Woods deadpanned when it was suggested they should take the orange or banana route for pre-match fuel.
Woods and Montague were one of four champions crowned at the tournament. In the other championship matches:
• Billings West’s Jayden Ostler and Timmy Johnson won the boys doubles 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 over Johnny Kemp and Levi Collins of Bozeman.
• Bozeman’s Conner Joly overcame a set deficit to beat Skyview’s Aiden Binau 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 for the boy singles title.
• And Bozeman’s Maicy McCarty defeated Senior’s Kirsten Kraske, 6-1, 6-0 for the girls singles title.
All those players qualified for next weekend’s state tournament in Great Falls. The third- and fourth-place finishers also earned state berths. They were:
• Boys singles players Joel Thompson of Skyview and Andy Bough of Senior.
• Boys doubles teams of Cash Taylor and Marko Foster from Senior and Ben Ebel and Cody Brunner of Skyview.
• Girls singles players Ashley Bough of Senior and Violet Newhouse of Bozeman.
• And the girls doubles teams of Hailey Carlson and Jenny Guzman of Skyview and Ava Louman and Anelise Anderson of Bozeman.
Bozeman swept the team titles. The girls edged Senior 42-41 — those teams shared the AA state title last season — with West following at 16 points and Skyview 11. Bozeman’s boys had 35 points, followed by Skyview (28), West (24) and Senior (23).
Bozeman’s McCarty, the girls champ, is in her first season of high school tennis. Though a sophomore, she spent most of her time last season playing the United States Tennis Association circuit, and decided to give high school competition a try this year.
It’s worked out well for her.
“I’ve liked it,” she said. “I really like the whole team aspect of it. Normally I do tournaments by myself. I just felt like I should try it this year, and I knew I could do well. So I decided this is the year.”
Joly, the boys titlist, is also in his first year of high school tennis, but that’s because he’s a freshman. Joly said he and Binau, a junior at Skyview, used to cross paths regularly at USTA events when they were younger but haven’t played one another in several years.
“We have pretty similar forehands,” Joly said. “He hits it a little bigger than I do, definitely a little more confident. I think he’s just more used to being in control, so I kind of stepped up and started taking control of points and he started to get on his back foot and started missing some balls. He’s a good player.”
Boys doubles champs Ostler and Johnson also had to go to a crucial third set after losing a 5-4 lead in the second. The last time the two doubles teams met the Bozeman duo came out on top in three sets.
“It was kind of a scary match this time,” Ostler, a junior, said with a big breath.
This is the first season the West duo has been paired together, and Johnson, a senior, said early wins helped them build confidence.
“I knew we’d be a strong doubles team coming into the season,” he said. “And then after the first few matches when we beat Skyview and Senior early, I knew we’d be a pretty tough team.”
Woods and Montague have been tough all season long. With four wins this weekend, the Broncs tandem ran their record to 24-0.
“You can’t say anything, you might get those tough, scrappy players that can be tough,” Montague said when asked about expectations for state. “We just have to stick to our game and not let up.”
That, and maybe watch what they eat beforehand.