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BOYS TENNIS: Red River reclaims title

Grand Forks Red River is back on top of the North Dakota state tennis world. A year after having their string of 17 straight state championship snapped a year ago, the Roughriders reclaimed their spot as boys state champions by topping Bismarck L...

Red River's Simon Murphy fires back in doubles play of state championship tennis at Choice Fitness Courts in Grand Forks Thursday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Red River's Simon Murphy fires back in doubles play of state championship tennis at Choice Fitness Courts in Grand Forks Thursday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Red River is back on top of the North Dakota state tennis world.

A year after having their string of 17 straight state championship snapped a year ago, the Roughriders reclaimed their spot as boys state champions by topping Bismarck Legacy 3-2 in the final Thursday night.

The Roughriders had to wait until late in the night to celebrate as weather forced Thursday's action indoors causing delays.

The title wasn't secure until 10:09 p.m., when Red River's Jake Kuhlman won match point against Legacy's Casey Beck to give the Roughriders the key third victory in the team dual.

"It was a great day for our team," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "We came into the season with a goal and it was to win a state title. I thought we played real well last weekend and we elevated our games again today."

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But the key victory for Red River came at No. 3 singles, where Kaden Johnson beat Bradley Moylan 6-3, 6-4.

Johnson trailed Moylan 4-3 in the second set as he watched Legacy win the first set at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles on the courts next to him.

But the freshman left-hander reeled off the final three games to squash Legacy's shot at becoming the first West Region team to win the boys state tennis title since 1993.

"I kind of got after Kaden," LaDouceur said. "He kind of got the droopies going on a little bit. He was starting to walk around on his heels, not on his toes. He was kind of moping. Honestly, I jumped him pretty good when he came over. I don't like to do that, but I had to get him motivated a little bit.

"He responded great. He goes out and wins the next three games. You could see a pep in his step. He started hitting the ball. He got a little confidence. Kaden fought back and got us a huge point. We needed that one for him."

Kuhlman beat Beck 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 singles and Red River's No. 2 doubles team of Simon Murphy and Jack Lindgren beat Legacy's Justice McMahon and Robert Modin 6-0, 6-0 for Red River's first three wins.

Legacy's No. 1 doubles team of Brian Swanberg and Joe Wegner beat Red River's Prem Thakker and Gavin Loscheider 6-4, 6-2, and at No. 2 singles,

A year ago, Red River lost twice to Fargo South-once in the regular season and once in the state finals-to snap its 15-year winning streak and 17-year state title streak.

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But the Roughriders bounced back for a perfect 2016 season.

"It means a lot to the kids," LaDouceur said. "They all heard and read everything that happened to us last year. It was big headlines, as it should be, because we had a great thing going. This was just a start. This was No. 1. Somebody had to start it this year and it was us. They played great and I couldn't be more proud of them."

Red River's Kaden Johnson returns a shot in a championship match against Bismarck Legacy Thursday at Choice Fitness Courts in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Red River's Kaden Johnson returns a shot in a championship match against Bismarck Legacy Thursday at Choice Fitness Courts in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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