Hellgate Girl’s Tennis Triumph AA State Title


Brian Hanford, Elliotte Banziger, Laine Banziger, and Brooke Best after winning their respective matches.

Devyn Deschamps, Reporter


For the first time in 10 years, Bozeman’s Girls tennis team has been dethroned, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, Missoula’s Hellgate Girls Tennis has brought home the AA State title. May 25 & 26, competition across the state of Montana dueled out in doubles and singles for the Girl’s tennis titles, with Brooke Best, Laine Banziger, and Elliotte Banziger championing both. 


Junior Brooke Best has been playing for Hellgate Tennis for three years now, with all three qualifying for state. However, this is Best’s first year advancing to state in doubles, with partner Laine Banziger. Best had only played a few games with Banziger prior to Divisonals, “Switching to doubles was intriguing to not only play a different physical game but a different mental one too,” said Best. However, Best said that she felt stressed making the switch, with singles truly being her passion. “I think it was worth trying something new, but there is a part of me that wished I did singles,” said Best.                                                                                                                                                                                  


Junior Laine Banziger has also qualified for state doubles three times before, with notably her freshman year at Bozeman High, also winning the State AA Girl’s title. Last year, Banziger and her partner, Bailee Sayler, placed third overall. This year however, Banziger felt differently about winning with Hellgate. “I felt like I earned it a bit more,” she said. “It felt good to like surprise people.” 


In the earlier season, Banzinger worked incredibly hard against other top players of the state, with her and Best playing against Bozeman a few weeks into the season. “It was just a really good match overall, and up until that point, I knew that they were the number one team in the state. It just gave me a lot of confidence going into the later season,” said Banzinger. 


Laine was not the only Banziger of the team, with her sister, freshman Elliotte Banziger placing first in AA Girls Singles. “I’ve never been on a team for tennis and all the people were just so fun and made my season better,” said Banzinger. She says this humbly, but Banziger went the entire season without a loss, not even a set lost, and played in private competitions across the country as well. She says that this offseason, she will continue to practice consistently, and for the team, “get a bit better at cheering.” As this is her first year at Hellgate, her future as a Knight seems exceptionally promising. 


Both Banzigers, beyond being sisters, have a special connection to both Hellgate and the sport. Their mother, Hallie Banziger, was Hellgate’s last tennis girls singles state champion in 89’, 90’ and 91’. Despite this, both girls are making their own name apart from their mother. “Both my older sister and my mom have won state, but neither of them won in the same way I did,” said Elliotte. “My mom won state three times for Hellgate, but she did it in singles, not doubles,” said Laine. “I won for a different school my freshman year.”


All in all, the tennis season for Hellgate Girl’s was extremely successful. With high aspirations to defend the newfound title, Hellgate Knights will have a distinguished next season regardless.