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GIRLS TENNIS: Red River moves another step closer to another state tennis title

BISMARCK — Grand Forks Red River hopes No. 13 isn’t unlucky.

The Roughriders will play West Fargo at 9 a.m. Friday in search of their 13th consecutive state girls tennis team championship.

Red River reached the final by defeating Dickinson and Bismarck Century by identical 4-1 scores on the opening day of the North Dakota state team tournament at Capital Racquet and Fitness Center.

The Roughriders beat West Fargo 5-0 a week earlier in the finals of the East Region team tournament.

“I just had a talk with the team and I told them that last week is last week,” Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. “This week, it’s a whole new week with a whole new meaning. What happened last Thursday was great, but tomorrow is what we came here for.”

LaDouceur said he relayed his experience as the Grand Forks Central boys coach in 1998, when the Knights lost to Red River in the regionals, then came back and beat them the next weekend with the same lineup.

“West Fargo is a very experienced, very good team,” he said. “We have to come with our ‘A’ game.”

Red River easily cruised past Dickinson in the first round Thursday, but Bismarck Century put up some resistance in singles.

Mimi Yunker, Cindy Lim and Paige Relling all fought off tight sets to win. Relling trailed 5-0 in the second set, but rallied to win 6-3, 7-6 (5). That was the dual-clinching match.

“I was very proud and impressed with the way Paige battled back,” LaDouceur said. “Century is a very good team. To be honest, I was very surprised at the way they played. They pushed us very hard and both our No. 1 and No. 2 singles players had tough matches in the first set.”

The Roughriders went undefeated in singles matches on the day. Both losses came at No. 2 doubles.

West Fargo reached the final by knocking off Bismarck St. Mary’s, the West Region champion, 3-2 in the semifinals.