FARGO —West Fargo Sheyenne junior Monti Knewtson remembers the days when Sheyenne's girls tennis team didn't make the state tournament. Now, it's an expectation for the Mustangs.
"We have the most amount of girls we've ever had on a team this year because the tennis program has become such a successful and huge program at Sheyenne," Knewtson said. "I remember my seventh-grade year, our first year as a team, we didn't even make state, so it's crazy the past few years we've gone to the championship a few times."
West Fargo Sheyenne added another East Region championship to its resume with a 3-2 win over No. 3 seed Fargo Davies in the championship dual Thursday. The top-seeded Mustangs swept through the quarterfinals and semifinals with 5-0 wins over Valley City and Fargo Shanley en route for its second straight region championship.
The Mustangs had plenty of motivation this season after falling to Minot 3-2 in last season's state championship. Sheyenne senior Preeti Chemiti lost her match at No. 1 singles in the state title against Minot last season.
"It was pretty tough," Chemiti said. "It was a different mentality, for me especially, because I hadn't played No. 1 before. Reflecting on it now I think it was tough both physically and mentally to step into that No. 1 position for singles, but I knew that ultimately, in the end, our team played the best we could and we put our best foot forward."
Chemiti clinched the East Region title Thursday for Sheyenne with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Davies' Ishika Gupta at No. 2 singles. Knewtson had already won a 6-1, 6-2 match over Madison Bell at No. 1 singles and Mimi Gu did the same against Marissa Burian at No. 3 singles.
Chemiti, Knewtson and Gu did not lose a set in the tournament, only losing 11 games combined against Valley City and Shanley.
"I think not only losing to Minot, but coming close a number of years now really motivates us every single year," Chemiti said. "We want to make sure we win the state championship because that's our ultimate goal, but we also want to make sure that we play the best tennis that we possibly can."
Hard to imagine Sheyenne playing any better considering the Mustangs moved to 19-0 overall on the season.
"It means a lot, knowing that we won the EDC tournament and knowing that we have the momentum going forward to state," Chemiti said. "Our high school tennis program only started a few years ago, so it's really incredible to know that we've received such incredible growth in such a short number of years. To think that this program has such potential for upcoming years is promising as well."
Kati Lee and Kalea Blanchard knocked off Kaitlin Sundlie and Hailey Raan 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 for Davies. Lee and Blanchard came back from down 5-1 in the third set. Sheyenne's Abby College and Miranda Sommerfeld battled with Davies' Habiba Heshmat and Lily Andrews at No. 1 doubles with Heshmat and Andrews coming out on top 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
"We've been talking about this since the first day of practice," Sheyenne coach Chad Anderson said. "Last year was a tough one. We all know how it felt. We just wanted to make sure that we were on top."