N.D. STATE TENNIS: Red River tries to keep streak in unfamiliar place

Grand Forks Red River seniors Cindy Lim, Alexis Caoili and Lexi Antonenko were sixth-graders, too young to go out for the high school tennis team, the last time Minot hosted the state meet.

Alexus Caoili returns a shot during a doubles match on Thursday, May 07, 2015, at Choice Health and Fitness in Grand Forks, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

Grand Forks Red River seniors Cindy Lim, Alexis Caoili and Lexi Antonenko were sixth-graders, too young to go out for the high school tennis team, the last time Minot hosted the state meet.

No current Roughriders have ever played a North Dakota high school event in the Magic City.

But as the team pulled onto U.S. Highway 2 to head to Minot on Wednesday afternoon, coach Greg LaDouceur wasn’t worried about the change of scenery.

“The tennis courts are the same length and width, the net is the same height,” LaDouceur said. “I don’t personally feel that, in the sport of tennis, home court has any kind of an advantage over playing on a different court.”

For LaDouceur’s Roughriders, it hasn’t mattered where they’ve played in the last 14 years. Red River hasn’t dropped a head-to-head dual since the 2001 state championship, when Bismarck Century knocked off the Roughriders.


Red River enters this weekend’s state tournament as the No. 1 seed from the East Region with a string of 189 consecutive dual victories. It is aiming for its 14th straight state championship.

Some of those championships were foregone conclusions. Red River put together several dominant teams that dropped less than a handful of matches all season long.

This time, there is an element of doubt.

Red River narrowly edged Fargo Davies 5-4 during the regular season and earned a 3-2 victory over West Fargo Sheyenne during last weekend’s East Region tournament.

“Last weekend, I was very pleased,” LaDouceur said. “I think we played our best tennis of the season last week. Obviously, there’s more at stake for the girls than in regular-season duals. I felt everybody elevated their game. We got pushed really well in the semifinal match, but I still think that we played very, very good tennis and I was happy with our performance.”

Earlier in the season, LaDouceur expressed concern over his team’s lack of focus at times.

“I saw a lot more intensity and focus last weekend,” he said. “That will definitely be part of our discussion before things get underway.”

Red River opens the team tournament at 1 p.m. Thursday against Dickinson. Officials are hoping to play the entire tournament outdoors, a break from the past. Other state championships have been played indoors in Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck.


Red River’s leader is Lim, a senior and the defending state singles champion. Lim is the only Roughrider player that qualified individually for the state singles tournament.

The top threat to prevent Lim from repeating may be seventh-grader Monti Knewtson of West Fargo Sheyenne. Knewtson beat Lim in straight sets in the team tournament last weekend, but two days later, Lim beat Knewtson in straight sets to win the region singles title.

“Monti is a very nice player,” LaDouceur said. “She has a lot of good elements to her game. As she gets bigger and stronger, she’s only going to be that much more difficult to play against. Her size isn’t a detriment right now by any means, though. She handles herself well on the court. She has lots of experience in matches.”

Lim played well in the individual tournament to beat Knewtson.

“Cindy came out a little tight early on,” LaDouceur said. “I thought Cindy did a better job at staying in the point and being more patient. She was able to move Monti around a little more and keep the ball deep.”

In doubles, two Red River teams qualified individually. Caoili and Maddie Anderson are the No. 2 seed out of the East and Antonenko and Shaelyn Johnson are the No. 3 seed.

“When they just relax and do the little things they can control, they are very good doubles teams,” LaDouceur said.

But for starters, the focus is on the team tournament and keeping the streak alive.


“If we take care of our business and someone is better than us and wins, good for them,” LaDouceur said. “If we play at the top of our game and win, better for us. That’s all we can do.”

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
What To Read Next
Get Local