GRAND FORKS-As eighth-graders, Shaelyn Johnson and Monti Knewtson played for the North Dakota state girls singles title. Johnson won it.
As freshmen, the Grand Forks Red River and West Fargo Sheyenne stars once again played for the state singles title. Knewtson won that time.
As sophomores, they found a way that each of them could win a state title in the same year.
Johnson took home the singles crown Saturday afternoon in Choice Health and Fitness, downing Minot's Haya Dodin 6-3, 6-1 in the championship.
On the other side of the complex, Knewtson teamed up with Mimi Gu to take home the state doubles title, ousting Valley City's Reagan Ingstad and Kali Halgrimson 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the championship.
Both players were heavily favored to come away with state titles, and managed to wash away the pressure and win.
Johnson got rid of her nerves during the team competition Thursday, where she lost her only singles match of the season to Dodin in three sets.
But she bounced back for the individual tournament and cruised to the title without coming close to dropping a set.
Johnson was particularly sharp in the final, beating Dodin 6-3, 6-1.
"My mental game was way better," Johnson said. "I was in a better place. I was focused and I was confident with my shots.
"I thought my groundstroke game was better than Thursday. I was hitting more in and more consistently-and all-around just better."
Red River head coach Greg LaDouceur said: "I think her confidence level was just that much better today. She played very smart. She got off to a great start. She was able to outlast Haya on some of those long rallies and points, whereas on Thursday, she wasn't able to. Haya is a great player. Shae had to play her best ot beat her and she did."
After winning match point, Johnson had no reaction. She just calmly walked to the net to shake hands with Dodin.
"Relieved," Johnson said. "I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of pushing myself."
While Johnson got rid of her nerves Thursday, Knewtson had to battle hers in the second set of the state doubles championship.
After Knewtson and Gu built a big lead on Ingstad and Halgrimson, Knewtson's serve turned erratic at the end of the second set as the Valley City team charged from down 5-1 to force a tiebreaker.
But Knewtson and Gu took control of the tiebreaker early and finished off the state championship.
It was the first individual state championship for Gu, an eighth-grader.
"I'm really happy," Gu said. "It's kind of overwhelming."
Knewtson is the fifth North Dakota girls player to win a state title in both singles and doubles, and the first to win a doubles title after winning a singles title.
"I'm so thankful that I got to play doubles in this tournament and that I got to play with a stellar, amazing partner," Knewtson said. "I'm glad that I have experience in both singles and doubles. I didn't know that I was going to play doubles this year, but I'm so thankful that's what happened."
Shaelyn Johnson, RR, over Haya Dodin, Minot, 6-3, 6-1
Preeti Chemiti, WFS, over Jamie Stoppler, BC, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
Raquel Egge, Minot, over Brianna Metzger, BL, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
Johnson over Stoppler 6-0, 6-3; Dodin over Chemiti 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0
Egge over Abby McPherson, BL, 6-1, 6-1; Metzger over Habiba Heshmat, FD, 6-4, 6-1
Monti Knewtson-Mimi Gu, WFS, over Reagan Ingstad-Kali Halgrimson, VC, 6-3, 7-6 (4)
Lauryn Andre-Taylor Richter, BHS, over Elizabeth Felderman-Kenna Vogel, Mandan, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Brooke Kennelly-Lilli Pokrzywinski, RR, over Anna Frie-Karsen Aune, Shan, 6-3, 6-4
Knewtson-Gu over Andre-Richter 6-3, 6-2; Ingstad-Halgrimson over Felderman-Vogel 6-3, 6-4
Kennelly-Pokrzywinski over Isabel Krogh-Kassidy Johnson, RR, 6-3, 6-4; Frie-Aune over Kali Askvig-Alyssa Henson, Minot, 6-4, 6-4