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Eric Peterson, Published July 01 2013

Knewtson, 11, of Fargo is ranked No. 1 in the USTA Northern section

FARGO - Playing for a section championship in tennis, 11-year-old Monti Knewtson trailed by four games in the first set. She didn’t let the deficit faze her, winning the next nine games.

“She doesn’t get caught in those little details,” said Lana Knewtson, who is Monti’s mother. “A lot of kids would be down 1-5 and start losing their mind a little bit.”

That composure helped Monti recently win singles and doubles crowns for girls 12s at the USTA Northern Junior Section Championships. The section is made up of players from North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and northwestern Wisconsin.

Monti rallied for a 7-5, 6-2 victory for the section singles title in early June. She teamed with Ellen Puzak, who is from Minneapolis, to win the doubles crown. Monti is ranked No. 1 in the USTA northern section.

“I like tennis way more than other sports because you are on your own,” said Monti, who is from Fargo. “I like team sports, but I like tennis better.”

Monti first picked up a racket when she was about 4 years old. She played in her first tournament when she was around 8 years old. She now plays in around 20 tournaments in a year.

“I just remember her when she was so little out there, swinging that racquet and just swinging as hard as she could,” Lana said with a laugh. “I just think some people are surprised that the power she can create for her size.”

While Monti has a calm demeanor on the court, she has an aggressive edge to her play.

“I like short balls that you can rip as hard as you can,” Monti said with a smile. “I like hitting it hard.”

Monti is a former F-M Acro Team member and credits that background in gymnastics to helping her in tennis.

“I always thought that helped her a little bit with her coordination,” Lana said.

Tennis is also a family activity for the Knewtsons. Lana and her son, North, 14, are on one team. Monti and her dad, Chad, are the other team. They play a family game usually at least one time per week.

“It goes back and forth,” Monti said. “Last time we played, my dad and I won.”

North then chimed in, pointing out that he and his mom may hold a slight edge in the family series.

“Maybe 60-40 us,” North said with a smile.

Monti plans to head to the Zonals Championships that are scheduled for late July in Omaha, Neb. She will play in both doubles and singles.

“It would be really good to win a match there or a few matches there,” Monti said.

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

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