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'Still had a great year'

West Fargo's Cassie Smith (left) gets ready as Megan Broton serves during their dual match Thursday in the first round of Class A team competition at the State Tournament in Minot. Photo by Darrel Lund.

It wasn't the result they wanted, but the Packers girls tennis team shouldn't be disappointed on the overall results, coach Chad Anderson said.

During last weekend's State Tournament in Minot, West Fargo was edged by Bismarck in the first round and Fargo South in the second round - both by 3-2 scores - to get bumped from team competition. Perennial powerhouse Grand Forks Red River hoisted the championship trophy for the 10th year in a row.

After the close defeat to Bismarck in the first round, the Packers were mentally straining going against the Bruins.

"Once you lose a big match like (the one to Bismarck), and play right away afterward, it's tough," Anderson said. "In individual sports like tennis, the person you're toughest on is yourself."

But there were silver linings to the three-day tournament, and one came in the form of sisters Cassie and Sammie Smith. The pair battled their way to a fourth-place finish in duals during individual competition, earning All-State dual honors.

"It's the first time I've ever had either a boy or girl in the Top 4 at state," Anderson said.

After defeating their first-round and quarterfinal opponents, the Smiths faced off against Bismarck St. Mary's Caitlin Bakke and Mary Roller. But the West's top dual team was too much for the Packer stars, as they fell 6-2, 6-1.

Cassie and Sammie Smith still would get a place, however, no matter the outcome: facing Bismrack's Alek and Erin Haugen, the Smiths fell 6-1, 6-0 for fourth place.

West Fargo's other doubles team of Kaylee Stock and Megan Broton made it as far as the second round of the consolation bracket before they, too, were knocked out. In singles play, Sarina Olson dropped both her games and was bumped.

But while the Packers may not have performed to their hopes, Anderson can't look back on the season with anything but positivity. For starters, it's tough to put a price on experience like that of which freshman Katie Baasch and sophomore Brooke Christensen received after winning their No. 2 doubles match against Bismarck in the opening round of team play.

"When you think about it, we still had a great year," he said. "Some of our younger players, who otherwise might not have played, got the opportunity to play at a high level. That's going to do nothing but help us."