Rory Smith 01

Rory Smith of Kalispell focuses on a backhand shot during the men's open singles final in the 2019 Western Montana Open. Smith, a standout for the Kalispell Glacier team, lost to Devon Sikora in a close match.

HELENA  The AA State tennis tournament is back for the first time since 2019. The two-day event will take place in Great Falls and is slated to give athletes a chance to do something they have not done in two years: compete for a state championship.

There is a good amount of experience sprinkled throughout the tournament field, but also some first-timers who are looking to make their mark on the big stage. Ahead of the tournament that begins on Thursday morning, here is an overview of the 2021 State AA boys and girls tournaments:

State AA tourney

GIRLS

2019 singles champion: Maicy McCarty, Bozeman

2021 singles forecast: Bozeman’s Meg McCarty is attempting to follow in her sister’s footsteps with an undefeated season culminating in a state title. Meg has not lost a single set up until this point and will not need to go through Maicy who is not listed on the singles bracket. Meg enters as the top seed on the girls side and faces Maliah Beauchaine in the first round.

2019 doubles champions: Woods/Montague, Billings Senior

2021 doubles forecast: There will be no repeat champion in the girls doubles this time around, and with no season in 2020, it will be interesting to see who emerges from the pack. The duo of Kenadi McCulloch and Piper Spidel won the Western AA Divisionals for Missoula Hellgate last week, while Billings Senior’s Allison Blee and Gussie Lee did the same in Eastern AA Divisionals.

2019 team champion: Bozeman

2021 team race forecast: Look for Bozeman to make a run at repeating as champion with Missoula Hellgate as potentially the Hawks’ biggest competition.

BOYS

2019 singles champion: Rory Smith, Kalispell Glacier

2021 singles forecast: Returning champion Rory Smith is the favorite to repeat. He will be matched up with Helena’s Luke Donaldson in the first round on Thursday. Ryan Ashley from Helena Capital and Jace Tolleson Knee from Missoula Big Sky are also players to watch.

2019 doubles champions: Curtis/D’Angelo, Missoula Sentinel

2021 doubles forecast: Just like on the girls side, there will be no repeat champion in doubles. That props the door wide open for another duo to claim a state title this season. Chris Ledyard and Colton Quirk are Western AA divisional champions for Missoula Hellgate, so expect a solid showing from them. Missoula Sentinel’s Haiden Crews and Andrew Hauser are on the opposite side of the bracket and could create a Missoula monopoly on the boys doubles final if both teams avoid any upsets.

2019 team champion: Missoula Sentinel

2021 team race forecast: Missoula Sentinel and Hellgate both looked primed to make a push for the boys team title this season, creating a possible repeat of 2019’s one-two finish. Kalispell Glacier, however, might have something to say about that.

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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