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Tom Mix, Published October 03 2012

Tennis tandem serves as double-duty Deacons

Fargo - Fargo Shanley’s Dylan Alderman and Patrick Strom both admit they play more basketball than tennis, but that hasn’t stopped them from excelling at the latter this fall.

Alderman – a 6-foot-1 senior – and Strom – a 6-1 junior – have helped the Deacons make a late surge heading into the North Dakota state tournament set to begin today in Bismarck. Shanley – the No. 3 seed from the East – plays No. 2 West-seeded Bismarck Century at approximately 10:30 a.m. today at the Capital Racquet & Fitness Center.

Alderman and Strom are best known for being members of the Deacons basketball team that went to the Class A state title game last March. On the tennis court, both play singles and join together to form a doubles team to compete in individual doubles tournaments.

“They have good chemistry,” Shanley head coach Tony Walz said. “They have really come together at the end of the year this fall. … They are both just so athletic and get to a lot of balls.

“Patrick has a big serve and they are both great at the net. They can do a lot of things that other teams can’t on the tennis court just by being so purely athletic.”

It took Alderman and Strom a while to click, but the pair recovered to post a 4-4 record in doubles during the regular season and made a big run at the East Region tournament last week in Grand Forks.

Alderman and Strom played their way to the individual doubles championship match, but fell 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 to Red River’s Andre Caoili and Jake Kuhlman.

“That was just a good match the whole way,” said Strom, who was also 4-4 at No. 1 singles this year for the Deacons. “It didn’t come down to more than losing one crucial game, and we would have had that. It was fun to compete and just to know that we can play with a team from the dynasty they have built at Red River.”

Alderman – who went 6-2 in singles this season – said the match boosted his and Strom’s confidence heading into state.

“We knew that we have the style of play, being athletes, to hang with anybody on the court,” Alderman said.

“They are such a consistent team and they are not going to give up many easy points. We fought hard and we feel that if we get another match with them there could be a different outcome.”

Alderman and Strom finished fourth in individual doubles last season and hope to improve on that finish when they play Bismarck Century’s Evan Warren and Grant Ehli at 1 p.m. Friday.

“Last year was so much of a surprise finish,” said Strom, who also kicks extra points and punts for the Class 2A, No. 2-ranked Deacons football team. “We didn’t think we would make it that far, but this year we are coming in with a little more confidence and thinking we can maybe take it a little farther.”

There is a now or never feeling to this weekend, being that it will be their final tournament playing together.

“They took third at EDC last year and were points away from winning EDC this year against a very good Red River doubles team,” Walz said. “This year, I don’t think they would be satisfied with fourth place. They want to make the state finals.”

The Deacons entered the East Region tournament as the No. 5 seed, but picked up wins over Fargo Davies and West Fargo to qualify for state as a team.

Junior Ander Sawchuk went 6-2 in singles and 5-3 in doubles this season and is the No. 8 seed in the individual singles tournament.

“We have got a really deep team this fall,” Walz said. “As the No. 3 seed going in, we would definitely like to make it to the state semifinals.”

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