GIRLS TENNIS: Riders head to state finals
MINOT -- The Grand Forks Red River girls tennis team will try to finish off a decade of perfection this morning. The Roughriders cruised past Mandan and Bismarck St. Mary's by identical 4-1 scores on Thursday in the quarterfinals and semifinals o...
MINOT -- The Grand Forks Red River girls tennis team will try to finish off a decade of perfection this morning.
The Roughriders cruised past Mandan and Bismarck St. Mary's by identical 4-1 scores on Thursday in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the North Dakota team tournament in Minot to advance to the championship.
Red River will play Bismarck High -- a surprise winner over Bismarck Century in the other semifinal -- at 9 a.m. at Cameron Indoor Tennis Center.
The Roughriders are trying to win their 10th consecutive team championship. The last time they lost a dual was the 2001 state championship against Bismarck Century.
With two-time East Region singles champion Mimi Yunker and defending state champion Samantha Anderson holding down the singles and defending state doubles champions Lalangi Marasinghe and Shirlene Luk stationed at No. 1 doubles, the Riders are huge favorites.
Those players, and Cindy Lim at No. 3 singles, proved to be dominant on Thursday. All of them won matches in straight sets.
Red River lost both matches at No. 2 doubles.
"When they were on the bus, the kids were laughing and joking around," Red River coach Tim Wynne said. "It's always good to be nice and relaxed entering a state meet, but we had to put the kids' game faces on."
Wynne said he doesn't make his team aware of the monstrous expectations and fanfare that accompany the consecutive titles.
"We try not to even mention anything to the kids. What happened in 2004, 2006, to these girls is really irrelevant," Wynne said. "We just hope our girls play with an edge, and handle (the pressure) well. Sometimes, you can't tell how someone is going to play in the tournament, some play above their level, and others fall into a state of paralysis."
Red River's No. 1 player, Yunker, said she felt they are ready to deal with the expectations.
"We are pretty used to dealing with the pressure," Yunker said. "Our team is pretty experienced, and we are used to this. In state, you really have to be mentally prepared for everything."
Minot Daily News writer Jason Blasco contributed to this report