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Tom Mix, Published May 10 2012

West Fargo tennis team prevails with coach in mind

FARGO – Thursday’s match was for Chad Anderson.

That was the general sentiment among the West Fargo girls tennis players following a 7-2 Eastern Dakota Conference dual victory against Fargo North at Elephant Park.

Anderson, who is the Packers head coach, missed the match due to the death of his father, but West Fargo (10-2, 7-1 EDC) rallied to post the win and clinch the No. 2 seed for next Thursday’s East Region tournament in Grand Forks.

Senior Sarina Olson and sophomore Kaylee Stock posted a 7-6, 6-4 win over North’s Kayla Bjorlie and Lydia Jacobson at No. 1 doubles, which helped the Packers build momentum over the Spartans.

North hadn’t lost a doubles match to any opponent other than perennial powerhouse Grand Forks Red River, which will be seeded No. 1 at regions.

“We had a really rough match this week and our coach (Anderson) really got on us about it,” said Olson referring to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 doubles setback against Fargo Davies on Tuesday. “His dad died and we kind of really wanted to win for him and prove that we could do it.”

“(Coach) said this was the first match he has ever missed and it was nice to win,” sophomore Sammie Smith.

Smith won her No. 1 singles match 6-1, 6-0 over Bjorlie.

Both teams entered the match 6-1 in the EDC, with both having lost to Red River.

“This was probably our toughest match and we wanted it,” Olson said. “We fought our hardest and it worked out in the end.”

West Fargo assistant coach Sean Bourke filled in for Anderson, who has been the Packers head coach for 12 seasons.

“Anytime we get a win over a tough rival, it is enjoyable,” Bourke said. “I’m not going to lie I felt a little pressure with (Chad) gone. I didn’t want to be the one to lose to clinch second place in the EDC. It was a very satisfying win for me and the team.”

West Fargo jumped out to an early lead after taking two out of the three doubles matches. The Packers then went on to take five of the six singles matches.

“West Fargo has kind of had our number the last few years,” North head coach Greg Unruh said. “I feel like skill-wise we are close to them, but I still feel that they have that little mental edge over us. Until we get over that hump, we are not going to beat them.”

The Spartans were led by Morgan Thompson, who defeated Stock 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. Thompson paired with Mary Wessman to defeat Smith and Katie Baasch 0-6, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2 doubles.

North (6-2, 6-2) will be seeded No. 3 in the region tournament.

“It looks like we are going to be playing South in the first round,” Unruh said. “We can’t look past them at all. The only thing I’m focused on now is that first match and trying to prepare for that.”

Singles: 1, Smith, WF, def. Bjorlie 6-1, 6-0. 2, Thompson, FN, def. Stock 6-4, 6-4. 3, Olson, WF, def. Wessman 2-6, 6-2 2-1 (default). 4, Baasch, WF, def. Jacobson, 7-6 (4), 6-2. 5, Christensen, WF, def. Roth, 7-5, 7-5. 6, Stein, WF, def. Deal, 6-4, 6-4.

Doubles: 1, Stock/Olson, WF, def. Bjorlie/Jacobson) 7-6 (3), 6-4. 2, Thompson/Wessman, FN, def. Smith/Baasch, 0-6, 6-2, 7-5. 3, Christensen/Stein def. Cody/Roth, 6-2, 6-3.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562