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Packer tennis; West Fargo girls compete in 4th straight state

Beth Anderson had competed in the state girls tennis tournament multiple times before last week's state tourney in Minot. But the Packer junior accomplished something new this time around.

Beth Anderson went 3-2 and earned a sixth place finish in the state tourney after not placing as a sophomore in doubles competition or as a freshman in singles. In making her way to the fifth place match, Beth Anderson beat a Bismarck competitor that had beaten her at the West Fargo Invite earlier this month.

"I wasn't expecting to get that far, so I'm pretty happy with it," said Beth Anderson. "Being at the state tournament I realized how much I still have to work on. It'll be a long year ahead trying to get up to where I need to be, and I'm going to work really hard."

Senior Ann Dai also competed in the individual portion of the state tourney and went 1-2 and did not place.

"When you've played all season long and you qualify for individuals, you're kind of on your own," said Chad Anderson. "You get to see a lot of different players, and you don't have the pressure of the team on you when you play individuals."

Dai and Beth Anderson competed after the Packers were eliminated from team competition after going 0-2. The Packers opened the state tourney with a 5-0 loss to Bismarck Century prior to losing to Minot 3-2 in a hard fought competition.

"Century is just so deep. They're a really good team," said Packers coach Chad Anderson. "It came down to the very last match for us against Minot."

The Packers and the state tournament are beginning to go hand in hand. The Packers ended a 25-year state tourney drought in 2006 and have now qualified for and competed in four consecutive state tournaments as a team. Chad Anderson credits an influx of talented tennis players into the program.

"At the beginning of this season we were still fairly young, and we didn't really know what to expect," said Chad Anderson. "We had quite a few girls really improve, and we were able to beat several teams 9-0 this year, which I think says our program is really growing in depth. We're getting more quality players, and that's helping our team."

Although the Packers certainly weren't looking to go two and out in team competition for the second straight year, they went as far as they could. Bismarck Century would be a tough first round draw for any team, and the Packers managed to take host Minot to the wire.

"I could see how our team grew this year," said Beth Anderson. "We were sad that we lost, but it's still pretty satisfying to be where we are."

West Fargo has graduated at least one tennis player each year that has been instrumental in the Packers' recent success. This year is no different. This season it's Dai who follows in the footsteps of Jessie John (2007) and Sadie Doggett (2008) as the latest Packer talent to finish up a long prep career at the state tournament.

"Ann has done well. This was a really good year for her," said Chad Anderson. "She had some really key matches for us this season, and she had a good state tournament to finish on a high note."