GREAT FALLS — The best in Class AA tennis gathered in Great Falls at the state tournament last week. Rory Smith was the only one left swinging at the end as the Kalispell Glacier sophomore claimed the boys singles crown.
Smith finished in a tie for fifth at state as a freshman in 2018. He broke through this time, taking down an opponent he’s been playing against for years in the final. Smith survived a tie-break in the first set against Bozeman’s Connor Joly on his way to a 7-6, 6-1 victory.
Smith also came out on top in a second-set tiebreaker in a quarterfinal victory over Billings Skyview’s Aiden Binau and two tiebreakers in an epic 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 semifinal versus Missoula Sentinel’s Ethan Violette. Couple that with the tournament moving indoors because of rain, and Smith knows he put on quite a show.
“It honestly makes it more appealing,” said Smith. “It’s always fun to have a little bit of drama in a tournament, because if it all just goes accordingly it gets a little tiresome. But it was just fun to have, I don’t know, a little punch of drama and a change of location. I feel really good about it. There were a lot of really good players in this tournament, so just to be able to be at the top, it feels really special.”
Smith’s run helped Glacier’s boys finish fourth in the team standings. He is the first Kalispell boy to claim a state singles title since Kellen Bates finished his record-setting Glacier career in 2013.