The Minot High School girls tennis team and state tournament first-round opponent Valley City know little about each other, but the two will grow quite familiar today.
The West Region No. 2 seed Majettes and the East Region No. 3 Hi-Liners qualified for the team tournament and both schools have two pairs in the state doubles tournament. The teams will meet at 1 p.m. in Grand Forks with the winner likely getting a shot at East Region No. 1 and 11-time defending state champion Grand Forks Red River.
It will be the first meeting between MHS and VCHS this year and a duo on each team will be extra curious as No. 3 Megan Sherven and Jenna Coggins (MHS) and No. 6 Sam Coit and Sara Gilbertson (VCHS) face off in the first round of the doubles tournament Friday.
MDN File photo
Minot High School junior Ban Dodin hits a shot during a match earlier this season at Cameron Indoor Tennis Center.
For Sherven, a senior, the tournament is a reminder of important lessons learned at state last year.
"I played a lot harder girls and that's what you will find at state," Sherven said. "You will find harder competition, but you just have to go out and do your best and enjoy the experience. It's a fun experience."
The Majettes (10-5) are coming of a 3-2 loss to West No. 1 Bismarck St. Mary's in the West Region tournament championship. The Hi-Liners (7-4) beat Fargo North 3-2 in a state-qualifier of the East Region tournament to earn their first state berth since 2002.
"My girls are playing loose and I only have one senior and we're just having a good time," VCHS Matthew Nielson said. "I think by us just focusing on each point instead of the end result has helped the girls play really well this year."
The coaches had limited opportunity to scout the opposition as the two teams played at the same tournament only once and it was early in the season.
"They're still a little bit unknown 'cause I only got to see them at West Fargo, but it was about 45 degrees with about 30 mph winds," Nielson said.
Both teams will look at results from matches against common opponent Fargo North. The Majettes beat the Spartans 4-1 on May 10 and the Hi-Liners 3-2 win last week kept North out of the state tournament.
"I think they're excited," MHS coach Scott DeLorme said of his team. "We're kind of using the motivation of being happy to be there and trying to relax and hopefully everything goes well."
On Friday, MHS junior Ban Dodin and Katie Wilson will play in the doubles tournament as the West No. 2 seed against East No. 7 Mariah Stein and Jamie Freden of West Fargo.
Wilson and Dodin lost the West Region championship to St. Mary's Alicia Beck and Mary Roller after beating teammates Sherven and seventh-grader Coggins 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinal.
"I think that match gave us a lot of confidence because Ban and I were on top of our game and being really aggressive," Wilson said. "We thought we did very well and hopefully we can carry that over."
DeLorme is urging both of his doubles teams to be more aggressive.
"We've been stressing to get to the net," DeLorme said. "Both of our teams kind of want to stay at the baseline and play a singles style, which hasn't really worked."
Said Sherven: "I like to come to the net. Me and Jenna actually do a lot better when we're up at the net and we're both good at setting up the next shot if they do lob us."
If Sherven and Coggins win their first round matchup, another Valley City team or one from Mandan will be next. Dodin and Wilson will face a team from either Red River or Bismarck Century in the second round.
The remainder of the MHS lineup - senior Cally Sessions, junior Kendra Collins and sophomore Latasha Klein - in the team tournament will use a shot at favorite Red River (11-0) in the second round as motivation against the Hi-Liners.
"Nobody expects you to win (against Red River), nobody expects you to compete, so you just go out and have fun and see what happens," DeLorme said.