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Eric Peterson, Published May 25 2012

Grand Forks Red River wins 11th consecutive N.D. state girls tennis crown

FARGO – Grand Forks Red River now has a decade of girls tennis dominance – plus one.

The Roughriders earned a 3-2 victory against Bismarck St. Mary’s to win the North Dakota state championship Friday at Courts Plus. Red River has won 11 consecutive state titles and extended its dual streak to 150 wins in a row.

“It’s pretty special,” said Red River head coach Greg LaDouceur. “The girls work hard all year long to get to this point of the season. For them to come out with the victory is a great accomplishment.”

Red River took the drama out the title matchup early, winning the first three matches that were completed. St. Mary’s, however, rallied to win two matches – at No. 1 and No. 3 singles – in three sets.

“To have two of my girls win is just a sheer delight for me as a coach,” said St. Mary’s head coach Sandy Wald-Clooten.

The Roughriders earned an important victory at No. 2 doubles. Red River’s team of Alexis Caoili and Paige Relling won in straight sets, but held off St. Mary’s for a 6-4 win in the second set. Had St. Mary’s rallied for victory and forced a third set in that match, the momentum may have shifted.

“It was kind of stressful, but we made it through together and held it together,” said Caoili, a freshman. “Our coaches help us a lot to just breathe and calm down and take a few seconds before serving.”

The Caoili-Relling win clinched the championship as Red River had already earned straight sets victories at No. 2 singles (Mimi Yunker) and No. 1 doubles (Lalanghi Marasinghe-Cindy Lim).

Bismarck Century was the last team other than Red River to win a girls state crown. The Patriots took the team title in 2001.

“When you’re playing there is a lot of pressure, but it’s also fun at the same time because our team is so strong and we know we can do it,” Caoili said.

LaDoucer is in his first season as girls head coach, but was a girls assistant coach prior to that. He is also the Red River boys head coach.

“It’s not something we talk a whole lot about, but they know it’s there,” LaDouceur said of winning 11 consecutive state team titles. “They elevated their play this weekend and that’s all I could ask of them.”

Wald-Clooten guided her St. Mary’s to the team title match for the first time in her coaching career.

“As a coach, I’m so proud,” said Wald-Clooten as her eyes started to well up with tears. “I’ve been coaching for 22 years and to have these girls make it to the finals … It’s a big first for me. They are such a team unit. They are all for one and one for all.”

Championship

Red River 3, St. Mary’s 2

Singles: 1, Caitlin Bakke, SM, def. Sammy Anderson 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. 2, Mimi Yunker, RR, def. Mary Roller 6-1, 6-1. 3, Alicia Beck, SM, def. Maddie Anderson 0-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Doubles: 1, Lalanghi Marasinghe/Cindy Lim, RR, def. Mariya Krumm/Erin Benz 6-0, 6-1. 2, Alexis Caoili/Paige Relling, RR, def. Tori Brucker/Kathryn Malaktaris 6-2, 6-4.

Third place

Minot 3, Bismarck Century 2

Singles: 1, Sarah Janes, BC, def. Erin Black 6-1, 6-0. 2, Halie Hall, M, def. Alyssa Wolf 6-3, 6-1. 3, Megan Sherven, M, dec. Anne Dickson 6-3, 6-0.

Doubles: 1, Courtney Brackin/Kelly Swanberg, BC, def. Ban Dodin/Katie Wilson 6-3, 6-0. 2, Danielle Foster/Kendra Collins, M, def. Paige Fettig/Rachael Scott 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Fifth place

West Fargo 3, Bismarck 2

Singles: 1, Sammie Smith, WF, def. Tyne Oberlander 7-5, 6-4. 2, Kaylee Stock, WF, def. Alek Haugen 6-1, 6-3. 3, Sarina Olson, WF, def. Jenna Andre 6-0, 6-2.

Doubles: 1, Rachel Dodd/Jazmyn Oban, B, def. Katie Baasch/Brooke Christensen 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. 2, Emily Schauer/Rachel Shumaier def. Jamie Freden/Mariah Stein 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com