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Eric Peterson, Published May 26 2012

South's Moe ends Fargo drought with ND state girls tennis title

FARGO – Tears of joy welled up in Karen Moe’s eyes moments after she made history Saturday at Courts Plus.

The Fargo South junior rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory against Bismarck St. Mary’s sophomore Caitlin Bakke to win the North Dakota state girls singles tennis championship.

Moe became the first Fargo girls player to win a singles state title since 1983. South’s Julie Gilbertson won her second consecutive state singles crown that year.

“It’s so cool,” said Moe, who also won the East Region singles title the previous weekend. “In the East Region, I kind of got a taste of how that felt. It just adds to the win. It just glorifies it a little bit more and I’m just so blessed.”

Moe is also the first non-Grand Forks player to win state singles since 1998. A Grand Forks Red River player had won the previous 10 singles titles.

Bakke was attempting to become the first St. Mary’s player to ever win a state singles crown. She also helped the Saints finish second in the team competition, which was completed Friday.

“We’ve never ever been this far along,” said Saints head coach Sandy Wald-Clooten. “This is all firsts for us and it’s wonderful. … Even more so, I’m thrilled that all eight of them are coming back next year. We’ll be back.”

Bakke got off to a strong start against Moe with a 6-2 victory in the first set.

Bakke then won two of the first three games in the second set. That’s when Moe started to make her charge. South head coach Jason Thiner said Moe started to play more aggressive. He felt that made the difference over the final two sets.

“Putting a little bit of pressure on Caitlin I think helped,” Thiner said.

In the third set, Bakke again started fast, winning the first two games. Moe countered by winning six of the next seven games. With the score tied 3-3 in the third set, Moe broke Bakke’s serve to surge into the lead for good.

“That was definitely a key point,” Moe said. “It was like, ‘This is my last chance. I better go now.’ ”

Moe scored match point by putting away a short ball with her forehand. That point drew a large cheer from the crowd.

“I’m just so humbled because I know these players are so good and they all deserve it and I’m just so blessed to have this opportunity,” Moe said.

“All her work has paid off,” Thiner added. “There was a time this season where I think she wondered why she put in all the hard work this past year. Now she knows why.”

Red River was dominant in the doubles competition with two teams making the finals. Junior Lalanghi Marasinghe and freshman Cindy Lim defeated senior Sammy Anderson and seventh-grader Maddie Anderson 6-3, 6-1 to earn the state title.

Marasinghe has played on the past four state doubles championship teams. She’s played with three different partners during that run. This was her first title with Lim.

“She’s a great doubles player,” Red River head coach Greg LaDouceur said. “You can put just about any player with her in a doubles situation and she’s going to make that person that much better. Cindy is an awesome doubles player, too.”

Marasinghe said it was tough to play teammates in the finals, but she was pleased with the way her and Lim meshed.

“My doubles game has peaked this year and hopefully it will go higher, so I think I will stick to doubles,” Marasinghe said.

“I’m just excited,” Lim added.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com

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