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EAST REGION TENNIS: Roughriders make it eight straight championships

Grand Forks Red River coach Tim Wynne notes that it seems as though half of his team attends classes at South Middle School. However, the youthful Roughriders once again proved to be the best in East Region high school girls tennis. Behind three ...

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Grand Forks Red River coach Tim Wynne notes that it seems as though half of his team attends classes at South Middle School.

However, the youthful Roughriders once again proved to be the best in East Region high school girls tennis.

Behind three dominating singles performances, Red River won its eighth straight region team championship with a 5-0 win over West Fargo on Friday at Center Court Fitness Club.

It's also Red River's first championship in the past seven years that didn't include possibly the most dominating player in state history -- six-time state singles champion Liza Wischer.

"We have a solid lineup all the way up and down," Wynne said. "This is the post-Liza Wischer era, but (the young players) are established as far as tennis goes. And the players who have been developing at the junior varsity level have waited for their time."

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Red River showed off its youth in sweeping singles matches against the Packers. Seventh-grader Lalangi Marasinghe, eighth-grader Samantha Anderson and sophomore Callie Ronkowski all won in straight sets.

The Riders were equally dominant as a team. Red River beat Central 5-0 in the quarterfinals and Fargo South 5-0 in the semifinals. Red River has outscored opponents by a combined 77-1 in duals.

"It's pretty incredible," Red River senior Catie Mullally said. "It's really a privilege to be a part of."

Red River's doubles teams of Mullally-Madison Hovland and Shirlene Luk-Linnea Johnson also earned wins against the Packers.

Mullally and Hovland needed three sets to seal Red River's shutout victory. The pair beat West Fargo's Beth Anderson and Sadie Doggett 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

The Riders don't have a junior playing in the regional and Mullally is the only senior.

"I just try to tell the younger girls to have fun," Mullally said. "If they have a bad shot, I just tell them to try their best and shake it off."

Fargo South, a 4-1 winner over Valley City, and Fargo North, a 4-1 winner over Wahpeton, also qualified for the state team tournament.

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After Friday's start of the individual tournament, Red River's top hopes remain.

Ronkowski, the tournament's top singles player, advanced to the semifinals along with teammate Marasinghe, Grand Forks Central's Megan Sween and Fargo Shanley's Andrea Rognlien.

Anderson and Mullally knocked off a pair of teammates to advance to today's semifinals in the doubles tournament. Mullally and Anderson topped Red River's Luk and Emily Orr 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.

Fargo North's team of Kaylee Bergstrom-Adlina Paramarta, Valley City's team of Eryn Lutjens-Katie Paulson and West Fargo's team of Beth Anderson-Sadie Doggett also are alive in the doubles tournament.

The tournament resumes at 8 a.m. today.

If you go

What: East Region individual tournament.

When: Today, 8 a.m.

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Where: Center Court Fitness Club.

Team champion: Grand Forks Red River.

Top singles seed: Callie Ronkowski, Red River.

Top doubles seed: Catie Mullally-Samantha Anderson, Red River.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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