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State AA tennis: Repeat titles lead Hellgate girls back to top; CMR boys reign

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Posted at 8:56 PM, May 24, 2024

BOZEMAN — Missoula Hellgate, thanks to two repeat titles, won its third consecutive girls Class AA tennis championship at the state tournament Saturday at Gallatin High.

Hellgate sophomore Elliotte Banzinger was in search of her second consecutive girls singles title and she didn't disappoint. Banzinger again dispatched Helena's Qayl Kujala 6-1, 6-1 in a rematch of last year's final.

Not to be outdone, Banzinger's elder sibling, Laine, joined Brooke Best to capture the girls doubles championship. Laine and Best defeated the Billings Skyview tandem of Eloise Bailey and Ramsey Biehl 6-1, 7-5, to win their second straight crown.

The Knights scored 37 team points to rout the field.

The Great Falls CMR boys, meanwhile, won the boys team championship with 28 points, outlasting second-place finishers Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin with 20 points each.

In boys doubles, CMR's Josh Stimac and Eli Crist survived a semifinal battle with Bozeman's Gollin Gross and Oliver Ward 7-5, 7-5, then went on to defeat the Kalispell Glacier duo of Sam Engellant and Will Rudbach 6-0, 6-2 to capture the title.

In the boys singles final, it was a matchup of the past two champions — 2022 winner Ryan Ashley of Helena Capital and last year's titlist, Mason McCarty of Bozeman Gallatin.

Both won their semifinal matches in straight sets earlier Saturday, then McCarty had the edge in the final with a competitive 6-4, 7-5 win to capture his second straight singles crown.