GIRLS TENNIS: East Grand Forks pair make the right choice
Chessa Jones is a realist on the tennis court. A year ago, Jones was a win away from a trip to the Minnesota girls state high school tennis singles tournament. She placed third in the Section 8A tournament; the top two finishers advance. But, lik...
Chessa Jones is a realist on the tennis court.
A year ago, Jones was a win away from a trip to the Minnesota girls state high school tennis singles tournament. She placed third in the Section 8A tournament; the top two finishers advance. But, like Jones, neither of the two placers ahead of her were seniors.
So doubles became the most logical alternative.
“We tried doubles and felt comfortable together,” Jones said of her doubles partner, Emma Dietrich. “We played well together. My goal was to get to state. I thought there was a better chance in doubles.”
Jones, a junior, and Dietrich, a sophomore, are state-tournament bound. The East Grand Forks Senior High duo head to next week’s state tournament coming off a championship run in the section doubles tournament.
“I’m not sure Senior High has ever had a section doubles champion,” Green Wave coach Kyle Hanson said. “I don’t have any recollection of it happening. I talked to Terry Paukert, a long-time tennis coach here, and he couldn’t remember it happening before, either.”
It wasn’t a reluctant doubles team. But Jones could have balked, considering her success in singles. And Dietrich? “At first, when (Hanson) talked about playing doubles, I thought, ‘No, I’m a singles player.’ But I decided to try doubles,” Dietrich said. “And I like it. It’s not all on you out there.”
Jones takes a 21-8 overall record to state, including a 15-5 mark at first singles. Dietrich is 16-13, including 8-7 at No. 2 singles.
As doubles partners, they were 2-3 entering the section tournament, where they won four straight matches en route to the title.
In those matches prior to the section meet, “it wasn’t that the other teams were better,” Hanson said. “It was just us making mistakes, correctable mistakes.
“They have what it takes to be a good doubles team. They both hit the ball so well. They both have great reflexes at the net. And we had time to work with them about learning how to play doubles and working together. At the section tournament, they were spot on.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. In the semifinals, they scored a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 win over Staples-Motley’s Nikki Edin and Grace Wolhowe. Then the Wave duo rallied in the championship to beat Pequot Lakes’ Karly Fyle and Sydney Holt 6-7(8-10), 7-5, 6-3. The Patriots team was up 3-0 in the second set after taking the first.
“Then Kyle came over,” Jones said, “and told us we were going to state, no matter what happened, and said (Senior High) had never taken first in the section in doubles. ‘So let’s take it,’ he said. That kind of motivated us and put the pressure on us at the same time.”
The Wave team will meet a pair of sophomores, Kayla McIver and Kylee Funk of Foley, at 10 a.m. Thursday in the opening round of the state doubles tournament in the Twin Cities.
And they go with no second thoughts about choosing doubles rather than singles. “I was being realistic,” Jones said.
Said Dietrich: “There are no regrets. I don’t think I would have done this well playing singles.”