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Riders survive test

Grand Forks Central’s Emily Morken hits a shot as she and teammate Katie Stauss play Red River’s Shaelyn Johnson and Brooke Kennelly Thursday at University Courts. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
Red River’s Brooke Kennelly hits an overhand shot as she and Shaelyn Johnson play Grand Forks Central’s Katie Stauss and Emily Morken Thursday at University Courts. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

Grand Forks Red River is not going to have much margin for error this postseason.

It won't be the same as some of its girls tennis teams that have won 15 of the past 16 North Dakota state championships.

That's why Thursday's dual was a good test for the Roughriders.

Red River played a Grand Forks Central team that has showed an ability to win at every position in the lineup this season.

Red River passed that test and beat the Knights 6-3 at University Park.

The Roughriders won four of the six singles matches and two of the three doubles match to move to 7-0 this season. Central dropped to 4-4.

"I was happy with the final result," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "Disappointed with some areas of our play. Central played very well. We played well in some spots."

LaDouceur said he was especially pleased with the way Lilli Pokrzywinski bounced back from a doubles loss to win a tight 6-3, 6-4 match at No. 4 singles.

Sophie Welsh highlighted Central's day, managing to win twice—once at No. 2 doubles with Gabby Spicer and also at No. 3 singles.

"Beating Red River is always a tall task," Central coach Nick Graves said. "We knew a lot of things had to go right in order to do it. We wanted to go out and play a lot of competitive matches, and I think from that aspect, we did pretty well. We should strive to grind away to get five wins, but they are a little more experienced in a lot of spots and that showed through."

Both teams are preparing for the East Region tournament, which begins May 24 in Fargo. The state tournament is in Grand Forks.

"I like our chances, I do," LaDouceur said. "We have a chance to do something very good, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to them and their performance.

"I have girls who can play. I have girls who are scrappy. It's all in the mindset. If they don't show up and compete with the right mindset, then we're going to be on the bad side of some of these matches."

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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