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GIRLS TENNIS: Riders make it a clean sweep at East Region

After last season, Mimi Yunker changed her game a little bit.

“Last year, I tended to want to hit winners on every shot, even if I was way back at the base line,” the Grand Forks Red River senior said. “This year, my patience is better.”

That showed Saturday afternoon.

Yunker’s steadiness at the base line helped her outlast Red River teammate Cindy Lim 6-4, 6-2 to win her third East Region singles title. Yunker previously won the region singles title as an eighth grader and a freshman. She also has two region doubles crowns.

Yunker didn’t drop a set en route to this singles title, beating Fargo Shanley’s Olivia Keelin in the semifinals before topping Lim in the championship.

“I just believed in myself, hit all my shots and tried to be patient,” Yunker said. “My shots were working today. (Lim) is a great player. It’s tough to beat her, so luckily, I was on today.”

Yunker, who will play at UND next season, edged Lim in a close first set. In the second set, she jumped out to a commanding 4-1 lead and finished off the match.

Yunker will take the No. 1 seed from the East Region into the state tournament next weekend in Bismarck. Lim will be the No. 2 seed and West Fargo’s Sammie Smith is the third seed. Another top contender will be Bismarck St. Mary’s Caitlin Bakke, who won the West Region singles title Saturday. Bakke is the defending state champ.

“Hopefully, I can go into it and play my game,” Yunker said. “I know that Bakke, Sammie and Cindy are going to be tough. Hopefully, I play my game and don’t play their game.”

That formula worked well Saturday.

“I’ve been playing well,” she said. “I’ve been practicing a lot.”

The Red River doubles team of junior Alexis Caoili and freshman Maddie Anderson made it a clean sweep for the Roughriders, who won the East Region team title Thursday.

Caoili and Anderson easily beat the tournament’s top seed, West Fargo seniors Kaylee Stock and Katie Baasch, 6-0, 6-1 in the doubles final.

“We got really pumped up for each other,” Caoili said. “We knew that this was it and that this is what we worked for. It’s great to have our hard work pay off.”

Caoili and Anderson overwhelmed Stock and Baasch with their play at the net to finish off a dominant tournament, in which they lost just five games.

“We played really well today,” Caoili said. “We’re friends. We’ve known each other since we started playing tennis. I’ve been here since I was 5. She started when she was like 3. We’ve known each other that whole time.”

Two other Grand Forks doubles teams qualified for the state tournament in Grand Forks Central’s Maddie Comeau and Katie Sween (fourth) and Red River’s Paige Relling and Lexi Antonenko (seventh).

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He 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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