As Fargo South's Davis Lawley ripped through the regular season-going undefeated in singles and not playing a match closer than 6-0, 6-1-the rest of the East Region took notice.
Nobody was going to compete with the 2015 North Dakota state boys singles champion and not many wanted to try.
That's what led to an unusual number of top players opting to compete in doubles in the individual tournament rather than singles.
State champion Fargo South's No. 2 and No. 3 players teamed up in doubles. State runner-up Grand Forks Central's No. 1 and No. 2 players opted for doubles. East Region team champion and state third-place Grand Forks Red River saw its top four available players suit up in doubles. And the East's fourth team at state, Fargo Shanley, put its top two players in doubles.
"It's not probably because of Davis, it's definitely because of Davis," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "Everybody in singles is playing for second place in most of our opinions. The doubles draw is pretty wide open. Everybody went that way because of Davis."
That's why LaDouceur was thrilled to see his two doubles teams navigate the draw and reach the semifinals in the North Dakota state individual tournament Friday at Choice Health and Fitness.
Senior Gavin Loscheider and freshman Kaden Johnson knocked off Central's top duo of Gary Wu and James Votava 6-2, 6-4 to reach the semis, while senior Stefan Curic and junior Jack Lindgren outlasted Minot's Connor Templeton and Zach Diehl 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
The two Red River teams will meet at 11:30 a.m. today in the semifinals.
Fargo South's Geoffrey Youngs and Max Olson will take on Fargo Shanley's Finnian O'Donnell and Jonah Jelinski in the other half of an all-East Region semifinal round.
"If you look at the bracket, we've got four semifinalists from the East," LaDouceur said. "That's pretty impressive for us out here.
"I think our kids had a little bit to prove to not only themselves but also the rest of our conference. Us and Central only had two on the all-conference team. I think our kids were a little dejected over that and I think they had something to prove. I'm very proud of both of our doubles teams."
Sandberg reaches semis
Central eighth-grader Logan Sandberg, who played No. 3 singles for the Knights all season, has reached the semifinals of the state tournament.
Sandberg beat Williston's Matt Richter 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and rallied for to beat Bismarck Legacy's Bradley Moylan 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
"He's just a kid who works so hard for every point," Central coach Max Weisser said. "He never gives up and he's playing well. As an eighth-grader, it's tough, but it's also good to be that young, because he's able to forget every missed shot. He double faults and he sprints to the balls to go serve the next point, because he's so young, he just lives in that moment."
Sandberg plays Lawley at 10 a.m. Saturday in the semifinals. The other semifinal is Bismarck Legacy's Michael Janes against West Fargo's Joe Beske.
Weisser said that Sandberg's run to the semifinals didn't surprise him.
"Honestly, it's what I expected," Weisser said. "For all the work he has put in, it's starting to pay off. It will show all the rest of the coaches that he should have been all-conference. I couldn't be more proud of him."