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Glenn Pursley, Published May 21 2013

Packers poised for a shot at tennis title

WEST FARGO – It’s been a long time since West Fargo girls tennis coach Chad Anderson has felt the same level of confidence in his team as he does this season.

On Thursday, Anderson will find out if it’s more than a feeling, as the No. 2-seeded Packers take on Bismarck Century in the first round of the North Dakota state tournament.

“We really have a good chance of doing well in the team competition this year,” Anderson said. “The girls have worked really hard to get where they are at, and our goal is obviously to win that very first match.”

The first round has caused problems in the past for the Packers. Last year, they lost to Century.

Anderson and the Packers get another shot at the Patriots this year.

“We played (Century) in the first round, and they beat us 3-2, and I hope we can turn that around this year.” Anderson said.

But if all goes according to plan, the Patriots aren’t the only obstacle in their way. Bismarck St. Mary’s is another threat the Packers must worry about, having suffered one of their three losses to the Saints.

“We’ve come so far,” Anderson said, “But to be able to say we are state champions would be a feather in the hat for West Fargo. We get better every year, and they always say you have to go out and play the game and you never know what’s going to happen.”

If the Packers win, it will be West Fargo’s first girls state tennis championship.

Looking to take care of business for the Packers in the individual competition are Sammie Smith and the doubles team of Kaylee Stock and Katie Baasch.

Smith produced an impressive performance in the East Region tournament, defeating Anna Lawley of Fargo South 6-0, 6-0 to earn the No. 3 seed entering the tournament.

Smith’s first match is against Keyenna Enget of Williston. If Smith wins, she will face Karen Moe of Fargo South for the fifth year in a row.

“I feel like when I play (Karen), it’s just whoever is on their game that day,” Smith said. “It can go either way.”

Moe has been a difficult opponent for Smith, beating her last year at state in the quarterfinals and this year at the East Region meet last weekend.

“Karen is one heck of a player and so is Sammie,” Anderson said. “She won her match against (Moe) in the team competition, so she knows she can beat her. She just has to believe that she can win. I think she’s going to do well.”

The doubles team of Baasch and Stock is seeded fifth. They are paired up to play against Bismarck’s Rachel Dodd and Jenna Andre in the first round.

It will be the first time Baasch and Stock will compete this season, but neither is worried about the chemistry between them.

“We’re really good friends, so we work well together,” Stock said. “We’ve learned how each other play and know where to be and what to do at the right time.”

Baasch added: “Our personalities are a little a different at times, but we are friends in the end. Red River has been winning for many years, so if we won, it would just be crazy.”

The Packers’ first-round match against Century will be at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Forum reporter Glenn Pursley can be reached at (701) 241-5549.