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HELENA — The Helena High boys tennis team dominated against Butte on Saturday with an 8-0 shutout.

The Helena girls and Capital girls both beat Butte by identical 7-1 scores, while the Bulldogs boys edged the Bruins 5-3.

"Many of our players have put in hard work this winter at the indoor club, so 'thank you' to Brian Verwolf for that. It is paying off," Bengals coach Lance Bouchee said. "Movement is getting better and serving percentage is up, but still too many unforced errors.

"Butte is scrappy as always, but a win is a win; another good day for Bengal tennis." 

The No. 1 matches were all won by the local clubs. In boys singles at Lockey Park, Helena's Cory Bowlby bested Erik Casagranda 6-2, 6-4, while Capital's Alex Hanson outlasted Casagranda in three sets 6-4, 4-6, 10-8.

"I didn't think I played that good, my forehands were long, I couldn't get any top spin on the ball. But that's something I can change," Hanson said. "And I won, so that's always good.

"My strong suit today was definitely my serve. It's the only reason I stayed in the match, I was getting points off the serve."

Boys doubles winners at No. 1 were Helena's Alex Seburn and Evan Martin, shutting out Zach Johnson and Aidan Francisco 6-0,6-0; and CHS twins Ethan and Abe Allen over Johnson/Francisco 6-1,6-1.

On the girls side, at the Bill Scribner Courts, Bengals No. 1 singles Pilar Santos overcame Cameron Cassidy in a grueling three-setter 6-1, 3-6, 10-6; while Lady Bruins Regan Hanson also outlasted Cassidy in a topsy-turvy tiebreaker, 6-2, 1-6, 10-8.

"My first set I played well, but I didn't play my best in the second," Santos said. "In order to (get the win), I had to stop overthinking every shot, and ultimately, I pulled through when it counted."

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In doubles No. 1 action, Capital's reigning state champions, twins Bridget and Fiona Powers, defeated Butte's Kelly Pochecuma and Destiny Svennidsen 6-0, 7-6 (5). The Lady Bengals tandem of Maggie Needs and Melina Hammer beat the Butte partners 6-4, 6-3.

"It was nice to get some conference matches in today and to see Butte, who we will meet again at divisionals," Bruins coach Ryan Swenson said. "I felt one of our most impressive victories was probably Emma Coble (No. 4 singles), who dropped only one game to win 6-0, 6-1.

"Our girls gave a strong showing today, and our guys had several close matches, that could go the other way next time. And we have things to work on all-around."

Butte didn't go away empty-handed, with their win over the CHS boys, led by their 2-3 singles players Riley Walsh and John Berryman.

"It was nice to be playing, and our players improved as the day went on," first-year Butte coach Dorothy Joyce said. "The kids went to tiebreaker on several matches, which is great experience for them. And I was proud of the boys for pulling out the win over Capital."    

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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