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Sheyenne tops Red River in tennis dual, Johnson rallies past Knewtson in singles

Shaelyn Johnson hits a backhander during a doubles match against West Fargo Sheyenne's Monti Knewtson and ? Tuesday at Register Courts in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
West Fargo Sheyenne's Monti Knewtson hits a forehand shot during a doubles match against Grand Forks Red River Tuesday in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

The Round 1 battle between the last two North Dakota state girls tennis team champions went to West Fargo Sheyenne on Tuesday afternoon.

The Round 1 battle between the last two North Dakota state girls singles champions went to Grand Forks Red River.

In a potential preview of the team state championship and singles state championship—both of which will be played in Grand Forks later this month—each side walked away with something to show for it.

Sheyenne, which won the team title in 2016, beat the Roughriders 5-4 at Register Courts in Grand Forks. The Mustangs won four of the six singles matches and earned a win at No. 2 doubles to secure the victory.

Both teams entered the dual undefeated this season.

Sheyenne improved to 15-0 overall and 8-0 in the East Region. Red River dropped to 8-1 in the region.

"To be perfectly honest, I thought we let one slip away," Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. "We had a couple of spots where I wasn't pleased with the performance. If we get one out of those two that I was looking to grab, there would be a different outcome for us. Overall, though, to lose 5-4 to the team, I think, everyone is looking to win the state title, that's not so bad for us."

Red River sophomore Shaelyn Johnson beat Sheyenne sophomore Monti Knewtson at No. 1 singles in a showdown between the 2016 and 2017 state singles champions.

Johnson, who won the 2016 singles title, lost the first set 7-6 (2) in a tiebreaker, before roaring back to win the final two sets 6-1, 6-2 against Knewtson, the 2017 champ.

"(Johnson) struggled early on, then got it together pretty good in the second set," LaDouceur said. "She got a little more aggressive, a little more offensive, instead of letting Monti dictate points. She played smarter.

"It was good tennis. There was a little bit of wind playing havoc on both sides, but it didn't affect either one."

Johnson and teammate Brooke Kennelly also topped Knewtson and Preeti Chemiti in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles, 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 (6).

"Sheyenne was very aggressive in the first set," LaDouceur said. "They took the net away. I bet they had 15 easy shots. We didn't do a good job keeping it away from the net person. In the second set, we did a much better job keeping them off the net."

This was the final East Region dual for the Roughriders. Sheyenne plays Valley City on Thursday.

The East Region tournament is in Fargo in a week and a half. The state tournament is in Grand Forks on May 31-June 2.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 14th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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