Boys tennis has right-place, right-time attitude
On Tuesday, West Fargo boys tennis took on Fargo North. It looked as if a team of junior varsity players was battling another school's varsity squad.
Not based on skill, but stature.
With just one senior and a host of underclassmen, it's a scenario that has played itself out time and time again this season for West Fargo.
But while they may not have height on their side, the Packers certainly have talent, and coach Chad Anderson is ready to put it to good use as his team prepares to enter the postseason.
"I'd like to think that we're the team people are afraid to play because of what we accomplished this season," Anderson said.
West Fargo rounded out the year with three straight losses to Eastern Dakota Conference teams. Even so, the Packers still managed to finish 3-5 against conference foes and 6-8 overall. They are ranked No. 5 in the EDC, and will face No. 4 Fargo Davis (5-3, 6-5) in the East Region quarterfinals at 10 a.m. Thursday at Island Park.
The Packers only recently played the Eagles for the first time Tuesday. Wind that "gusted to 40 miles per hour," according to Anderson, played havoc with both teams.
"It was the great equalizer," Anderson said.
West Fargo was able to win its matches in the lower flights, but lost its Top 3 singles and eventually fell 5-4. It was a matchup that could have gone either way, and also means the Packers have an idea of who they will be facing come Thursday.
"I'm really looking forward to playing Davies because they're a good team, but I feel like we have a good chance of playing well against them," Anderson said.
One change from regular-season to postseason play is the format. While teams were used to playing six singles and three doubles all fall, they will switch to a 3-2 format for the next two weeks.
Normally this shift causes a bit of frustration to coaches. This year, however, Anderson hopes the Packers have a chance to do something they have not done since he began coaching here 12 years ago.
"Our goal is always to get to state as a team," he said.
Doing that requires West Fargo winning at least two of three East Region Tournament matches. Last year, the Packers made it to the final state qualifying game before losing 3-2 to Fargo North.
While Anderson would not yet divulge who would be playing in the first round Thursday, the Packers do have ample competitors despite their overall youth.
Brady Ballweber has been a No. 1 seed all year, and likely will pace West Fargo this week. The freshman is his team's only returning varsity player from last year, and picked up the Packers' lone victory last Thursday in a dual against the Spartans.
"He has done well all year, but there are players he matches and those he doesn't," Anderson said, indicating final decision would come down to the day of the tournament.
West Fargo's No. 2 singles player is Keyen Farahmand, another freshman that has showed promise and improvement all year. On Tuesday against Davies, however, Farahmand injured his shoulder after diving for a ball.
"Those hard courts don't give much," Anderson said.
Farahmand sat out both of the Packers' final regular-season matches, but Anderson hopes to see him ready to go this week.
West Fargo's No 3 spot has gone to a true underclassman. Although noticeably smaller than most of his opponents, Seventh-grader North Knewtson has held his own all year, and will be a powerful tool at EDC.
With two freshman and a seventh grader in his top three flights, Anderson's biggest fear will be quelling any last-minute jitters. But he has a plan.
"When you deal with tennis, you take one point at a time," Anderson said. "When you do that, you don't necessarily have to look at the whole picture.
"In the end, it's not necessarily the best player or team that wins; it's the person who is most mentally ready."