The night before the North Dakota girls state singles tournament, Shaelyn Johnson sat at home thinking about what just happened.

The defending state champion had lost three singles matches in a row to three different opponents. Two of them came during the team portion of the state tournament Thursday, so Johnson felt nothing like the favorite heading into the individual tournament.

"I really thought about my performance and how I acted," Johnson said. "I wanted to be better than that. I didn't want to come off as a crabby and mad person. I just had to reset."

The Grand Forks Red River junior did reset and put together a memorable run to cap to the season at Choice Health and Fitness.

Johnson breezed through her first-round and quarterfinal matches Friday. Then, she fought three a tough three-set match in Saturday's semifinal against Minot's Raquel Egge before beating her longtime friendly rival Monti Knewtson of West Fargo Sheyenne 6-2, 6-2 in the championship.

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"I wasn't supposed to win this," said Johnson, who lost twice to Knewtson earlier this season. "This was pretty much an upset. I'm really proud of myself that I was able to pull through."

It marked the third state singles title for Johnson, who also won in 2016 and 2018. Knewtson, also a junior, won it in 2017.

Only three other players have won as many state girls singles titles as Johnson: Grand Forks Central's Mary Gambucci, who won three in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Red River's Sarine Weingarten, who won four in a row from 1993-96 and Red River's Liza Wischer, who won six straight from 2002-07.

"I couldn't be prouder," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "I think there were a lot of doubters -- probably even including herself -- after losing three matches in a row from last week to Thursday. To come back and beat quality players here in the semifinals and finals like she did is a testament of her. She's a true champion."

Johnson had success extending points and outlasting Knewtson, who led the Mustangs to the team championship Thursday. Johnson jumped out to early leads in both sets.

"Her feet were a big asset in this match," LaDouceur said. "She tracked down a lot of balls that she wasn't able to in the previous couple matches against Monti, and she made her hit the ball. We told her that if Monti is going to beat you, make Monti hit the winners. I couldn't be more proud of her, because Monti is a great player and a great champion."

Chemiti-Gu win in doubles

West Fargo Sheyenne's Preeti Chemiti and Mimi Gu weren't challenged a lot this season.

But when they dropped their set of the postseason Saturday afternoon, Chemiti and Gu had an impressive response.

The Sheyenne duo won the North Dakota state girls doubles championship Saturday by topping Mandan's Elizabeth Felderman and McKenna Vogel 6-1, 1-6, 6-1.

It marked the second-straight doubles title for Gu, a freshman who teamed with Knewtson to win it a year ago. It was the first doubles title for Chemiti, a senior.

Chemiti and Gu went 4-0 last weekend in the East Region tournament without dropping more than five games in any match. They reached Saturday's state doubles championship by winning three matches -- none of which were closer than 6-0, 6-3.

Grand Forks Central's Katie Stauss and Gabby Spicer finished third by beating Kati Lee and Laura Kendlinger of Fargo Davies 6-4, 6-3 in the placing match.

Most N.D. girls state singles titles

6 -- Liza Wischer, Red River (2002-07)

4 -- Sarine Weingarten, Red River (1993-96)

3 -- Shaelyn Johnson, Red River (2016, 2018, 2019)

3 -- Mary Gambucci, Central (1969, 1970, 1970*)

*changed season from spring to fall

N.D. state individual tournament

In Grand Forks

Saturday’s results



Monti Knewtson, WFS, over Anna Stankova, Dickinson, 6-3, 0-6, 6-0; Shaelyn Johnson, RR, over Raquel Egge, Minot, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1


Johnson over Knewtson 6-2, 6-2

Third place

Egge over Stankova 6-1, 6-1

Consolation semifinals

Madison Bell, Davies, over Lizzie Allan, Mandan, 6-4, 6-1; Viktoria Hustova, Shanley, over Habiba Heshmat, Davies, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1

Fifth place

Bell over Hustova 6-3, 6-2



Elizabeth Felderman-McKenna Vogel, Mandan, over Gabby Spicer-Katie Stauss, GFC, 6-4, 7-6 (3); Preeti Chemiti-Mimi Gu, WFS, over Kati Lee-Laura Kendlinger, Davies, 6-1, 6-0


Chemiti-Gu over Felderman-Vogel 6-1, 1-6, 6-1

Third place

Spicer-Stauss over Lee-Kendlinger 6-4, 6-3

Consolation semifinals

Isabella Nankivel-Grace Faiman, WF, over Blaike Zander-Jessica Keller, BC, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1; Abby McPherson-Camaryn Beasley, Legacy, over Cali Halgrimson-Hope Petersen, VC, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2

Fifth place

McPherson-Beasley over Nankivel-Faiman 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4)


Gabby Spicer, Katie Stauss, GF Central; Shaelyn Johnson, GF Red River; Abby McPherson, Camaryn Beasley, Bismarck Legacy; Anna Stankova, Dickinson; Madison Bell, Laura Kendlinger, Kati Lee, Fargo Davies; Elizabeth Felderman, Kenna Vogel, Mandan; Raquel Egge, Minot; Preeti Chemiti, Mimi Gu, Monti Knewtson, West Fargo Sheyenne

Outstanding Senior Athlete -- Raquel Egge, Minot

Coach of the year -- Paul Kolesar, Fargo Davies