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Tennis team takes second in state

The Packer girls tennis team made its way to the North Dakota state championship match on Friday – knocking off the West’s No. 1 seed in the process – but ultimately fell 4-1 against Grand Forks Red River, who took home their 13th consecutive a state championship.

The Packers took second behind the Roughriders.

The team started the state tournament with a 4-1 victory over Minot on Thursday, then went on to face Bismarck St. Mary – the top team in the west – less than an hour later – edging them out by a score of 3-2.

“For us to play against St. Mary the way we did was great to see,” head coach Chad Anderson said. “They have three very good players, so it was fun.”

Senior Sammie Smith played what Anderson called an “amazing performance” against St. Mary’s Caitlin Bakke, beating her 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The doubles team of senior Katie Baasch and eighth-grader Pooja Chemiti also put in a strong performance, beating St. Mary’s top team 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Baasch and Chemiti managed to score the only point for West Fargo in the championship match, beating Ellen Larsen and Michaela Meland in two sets.

Baasch joined senior Kaylee Stock on Friday afternoon to finish third in the state doubles tournament, beating another Red River team - Maddie Anderson and Alexis Caoili - in three sets.

“They really took it to them,” Anderson said. “I think they played better in that one match than they had all season. It must have been something about it being their last high school match, because they played really well.”

While the season did not end exactly as they had hoped, the Packers have little to hang their head about. They finished the season with a 17-4 record and saw success from every player, especially its five seniors.

“I think we exceeded our expectations,” Anderson said. “We wanted to finish in the top four, and we took second, and they played so well in competition this season. We are definitely going to miss these kids. They have been on the team for five or six years, but they are all like family to me. It is hard to see them go, but they have some bright futures ahead of them.”