Season in Review: Girls Tennis
By Tyler Shoberg
To be successful, tennis teams need to have at least two critical aspects: depth and a solid No. 1 singles player.
This year, the West Fargo girls tennis team had just that - and more.
With senior Beth Anderson at the helm, and plentiful talent throughout, West Fargo went on to have one of its best seasons to date.
"The girls just keep getting better and better," said Chad Anderson, Packers tennis coach.
As it was, West Fargo finished the season 5-2 in conference play and 11-5 overall. They also were runners-up during the East Region tournament, and finished third place at state.
"We've gotten second (at EDC) before, but it's the first time we've gotten third at state," Chad Anderson said. "I'm pretty sure that's the best we've ever done."
The Packers advanced to face Fargo South in the semifinals of the East Region tournament, with whom they had fallen 5-4 during the regular season. But West Fargo pulled out a 3-2 victory to advance to the title match, where they took on proverbial tennis powerhouse Grand Forks Red River. The eventual conference and state champions handily beat the Packers 5-0.
Three Packers were named to the All-Conference team for their efforts at EDC. Sammie Smith and Sarina Olson each earned the distinction for the first time, while Beth Anderson got her fourth straight. Chad Anderson also was named EDC Coach of the Year for the third time since 2004.
At the state tournament, West Fargo defeated Bismarck St. Mary's 3-2 in the opening round before dropping their next match 3-2 against eventual runner-up Bismarck. The Packers once again faced a familiar foe in the third-place title game - Fargo South - and won 4-1.
Leading West Fargo throughout the season was Beth Anderson, a senior who was a force to be reckoned with during her prep career. With a 6-4 regular-season singles record, she finished fourth at the conference tournament in singles and made it to the consolation second round at state before falling 7-5, 7-5 to Bismarck St. Mary's Alicia Beck.
"I don't even know where to start," said Chad Anderson when asked about his daughter, Beth's, career. "She did a lot this year to further that West Fargo 'girls tennis attitude' that we are a good team, and will continue to be a good team and continue to work hard.
"There were a lot of players who looked up to her."
Beth Anderson will attend North Dakota State University this fall to study biochemistry. The Bison don't have a girls tennis team, unfortunately, but she got a "pretty good academic scholarship," her father said.
With the absence of Beth next season, several players have the ability to step into the leader role.
Megan Broton and Cassie Smith both will be seniors and will have the experience needed to lead the squad. Broton was a fourth flight singles player who was 8-2 on the season and "put in a lot of time," Chad Anderson said. Broton made it to the consolation second round at EDC before falling 6-4, 6-3 to South's Megan Hanekom.
Cassie Smith was fifth flight singles and also finished 8-2. She bumped up to third flight at EDC and state, and won all her matches except one, Chad said. Cassie also played doubles with her younger sister, Sammie, who will be a freshman next year. The duo were fourth at EDC and made it to the consolation second round at state.
Sammie's efforts at All-EDC honor were "a nice surprise," Chad Anderson said. "She's put in a ton of time, along with her sister. They hit a lot together."
Other top players included No. 2 singles hitter Olson, who "got better and better as she went through the season," Chad said. Olson was 5-5 and "got a couple key wins for the team at state."
Another senior who made an impact was Jill Bechtold. She played No. 2 doubles with eighth-grader Kaylee Stock, and advanced to the consolation second round at EDC.
"They also won a couple of important matches," Chad said.