Minot knocks off Red River, Sheyenne on way to first title since 1991
On Thursday afternoon, Minot ensured there would be no team from Grand Forks in the North Dakota state girls tennis championship for the first time in 27 years.
A few hours later, the Majettes topped that feat.
After beating powerhouse Grand Forks Red River in the semifinals, Minot won the last three matches of the state team final to rally past West Fargo Sheyenne 3-2 in Choice Health and Fitness.
It marked the first state championship for any West Region team in 17 years.
No. 1 singles player Haya Dodin clinched the victory by beating Sheyenne's Preeti Chemiti 6-1, 6-2. After Chemiti sent a return long on match point, Dodin's Majette teammates stormed onto the court to celebrate the championship.
"I'm just so happy right now, I'm kind of speechless," said Dodin, a sophomore. "I really just don't know what to say."
Earlier in the day, Dodin stunned 2016 state singles champion Shaelyn Johnson of Red River in three sets as her Majettes beat the Roughriders 4-1 in the semifinals.
It marked the first time Red River didn't reach a final since 2000, and the first time since 1991 that no Grand Forks school played in the championship.
In the final, Minot took out East Region champion and state-tournament favorite Sheyenne—a team the Majettes lost to 6-3 during the regular season.
"I remember four years ago at our end-of-the-year banquet—our seniors were freshmen then—I looked at them and said, 'This is the first time in my coaching career that we have a team that I think, down the road, can win a state title,'" Minot coach Scott DeLorme said. "For three years, they've bought in. In practices, they give it everything they've got. In the offseason, they give it everything they've got. I couldn't be prouder of them."
While Dodin clinched the victory, the key win for Minot came at No. 2 doubles, where Gwen Mathews and Joelle Fettig rallied past Pooja Chemiti and Miranda Sommerfeld 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. That match ended just minutes before Dodin's.
Minot's third win came at No. 3 singles, where Eden Olson beat Hailey Raan 6-1, 6-1.
"These girls bought into the team concept," DeLorme said. "We played eight girls today. The alternates supported their teammates. It was a team effort."
The Mustangs opted to play defending state singles champion Monti Knewtson in doubles instead of singles, strengthening Sheyenne's doubles teams but opening the door for Minot in singles, where the Majettes nabbed two of their three wins.
Knewtson has battled injuries this season, limiting her singles matches. But Sheyenne coach Chad Anderson said this week that Knewtson was available for singles if needed.
Red River, which entered the tournament in an uncharacteristic spot as underdogs, lost in the semis to the eventual champions.
"I thought we underachieved in that match," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "I thought a few of our kids didn't rise up to the occasion, but part of that is that Minot's a good team. They were expected to win and they came ready to play and they beat us."
The Roughriders beat Fargo Shanley 4-1 for third.
"We bounced back well," LaDouceur said. "We played very good in the third-place match against Shanley, so I'm happy with that final outcome."