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Deep West Fargo Sheyenne boys tennis team confident heading into EDC tournament

The West Fargo Sheyenne boys tennis team is in the midst of one of its best seasons in years and looking strong heading into this week’s Eastern Dakota Conference tournament. The Mustangs, led by a deep group of juniors and seniors, are 12-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play.

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West Fargo Sheyenne's Ethan Raan returns a shot during play against Fargo Shanley. David Samson / West Fargo Pioneer

WEST FARGO — The West Fargo Sheyenne boys tennis team is in the midst of one of its best seasons in years and looking strong heading into this week’s Eastern Dakota Conference tournament.

The Mustangs, led by a deep group of juniors and seniors, are 12-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play. They finished the regular season fourth in the conference standings behind only Grand Forks Central (12-0, 9-0), Grand Forks Red River (11-1, 8-1), and Fargo South (9-2, 7-2).

“This is definitely one of my better boys tennis teams,” Sheyenne coach Chad Anderson said. “I’ve got a great bunch of seniors that are good leaders and a lot of juniors that like to follow. They all get along really well. When you have good leaders like that it makes a huge difference.”

The Mustangs are the No. 4 seed in the EDC tournament and will play Fargo Davies in the first round. Sheyenne beat the Eagles 6-3 in a regular-season meeting that Mustangs number one singles player Ethan Raan said was a real confidence booster for the team.

“We played really well against Davies. They’re great every year and that was one of the first times in recent years that we beat them,” Raan said. “It was close, but at the same time it wasn’t a 5-4, it was a 6-3, so that gave us a lot of confidence to beat a good team like that that has a lot of talent.”

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Sheyenne made a big jump from last season when they were a young, inexperienced team. They lost a lot of experienced players from the previous season and had a lot of maturing to do. But the team led by seniors Noah Christensen, Connor Cook, and Will Solberg came back much-improved.

Raan says he and his teammates practiced together as much as they could all summer, often as many as five-or-more times a week. The experience they gained last season has been invaluable in fueling their success this season.

“Last season felt like it was completely new,” Raan said. “We lost a lot of guys from the year before that. We felt like we had to step up and we were still filling those shoes. This year, it felt like more of a return instead of trying to fill their shoes.”

The biggest change from year to year, Anderson says, is his team’s ability to win the big points.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump and win those big points when we needed to,” the coach said. “This year, we’ve been able to win those big points. When you win the big points, you’re able to win the matches. Because of that, we’ve been pretty successful. You always say you want to finish, but whether you can do it, that’s another story.”
The Mustangs’ only real hiccup of the regular season came in a 5-4 loss to Fargo South. The dual was tied at four matches a piece and came down to a tie-break in the third set of the deciding match.

“It could have gone either way and I think we should definitely have a lot of confidence the next time we play them,” Raan said. “There were a lot of other matches where we could have lost or we could have won, they could have gone eithe way. There’s no telling what is going to happen if we play them again.”

Anderson says that due to their depth, the Mustangs are well-suited for postseason play and he feels confident about his team’s ability to compete with the other top teams in the conference.

In the tournament, the lineup changes from a 6-3 format with six singles matches and three doubles matches, to a 3-2 format with three singles matches and two doubles.

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Most teams only play six players in their lineup in the regular season, with all six of their singles players teaming up to form the three doubles teams. But players can’t double-up in the tournament. They can only play singles or doubles.

During the regular season this year, Sheyenne has used eight players in its lineups with some players playing exclusively singles and others playing exclusively doubles. Anderson said that may be the first time he’s ever done that.

“With a 3-2 lineup, I think that we are actually probably going to be a better team than a 6-3 because we are so deep,” Anderson said.

“I have some really good players that I wanted to move around, so I had a couple play singles only and a couple play doubles only. Anytime you have that depth, it makes a huge difference.”

The depth is paired with high-end talent at the top of the lineup. Raan is one of the strongest players in the state and the coach says having a player of his quality filling the number one singles role is a major benefit to the squad.

“When you have that number one tennis player that dictates the number one spot as a win, everything else falls into place,” Anderson said. “We can depend on him to do his best and play his best.”

Related Topics: WEST FARGO
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