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Excitement renewed: Dickinson ready for West Region Tournament

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior Lindsey Bakken prepares to hit a forehand shot against Minot’s Ban Dodin during a West Region dual on May 2 at the DHS tennis courts.1 / 2
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior McKenna Love connects with a backhand shot against Skyler LuFave of Bismarck High on May 6 at the DHS tennis courts.2 / 2

Ingredients for success are talent, experience and chemistry.

The Dickinson High girls tennis team returned its entire roster from last year and possesses each ingredient, which has resulted in wins and confidence.

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Needless to say, the Midgets are brimming with excitement entering the West Region Tournament today in Bismarck.

“I love this team so much and everyone is back,” Dickinson senior Lindsey Bakken said. “It just makes me happy to be here and play. That helps, because if you love your team you want to do good for them. I think everyone feels that way.”

Dickinson, which finished its West Region dual season with a 4-3 record, enters the tournament as the No. 4 seed to play No. 5-seeded Bismarck High. The top four teams from the West Region advance to the state tournament.

James Kramer, The Midgets’ third-year head coach, who was named West Region head coach of the year last season, feels this is the direction the program needs to stay on.

“When you have good season like this, you have to use it as a stepping stone for future years,” he said. “We don’t want to go backward. We want to make sure we are No. 4 or better every year. That should be the goal.”

Dickinson senior Mariah Jorda said new the team had the potential to have a good season.

However, she said it wasn’t easy.

“We knew we could compete, but we really had to put the work in to get to that level,” Jorda said.

Bakken said there’s less pressure on individual day, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. However, she said the team has been in the right mindset the entire week of practice.

The Midgets defeated Bismarck 6-3 on May 6 in their final West Region dual of the regular season.

“The way we’ve been practicing is that every shot is match point,” Bakken said. “Everything is really important and intense, so we can get in the right mindset.”

Despite going through tough times in the previous two seasons, Bakken said it was good the team could learn and grow together.

Many of the players on the varsity roster received their first playing time as freshmen or sophomores.

“It’s really helpful to start out younger and play with people that are better than you, so when you are at the top you can be really strong,” said Bakken, who played in her first varsity match when she was in the eighth-grade.

Though the Midgets have experienced more wins this season, Kramer felt the team started making an upward trend toward the end of last season.

Another plus, which has helped Dickinson turn the corner has been the weather. Dickinson was forced to reschedule many of its duals, but Kramer said the team has benefitted from getting weeks of practice to fine tune areas of their game.

“The challenges with the weather when you start and stop and start and stop, you have peaks and valleys,” Kramer said. “Luckily, we’ve had an opportunity weather-wise to have kind of a week to 10-day stretch where they’ve been able to do work on our game. They are playing well right now and they are playing well at the right time.”

When this season started, every varsity player wrote down the same goal — reach the state tournament.

Those ambitions haven’t changed.

“A lot of us have been trying since sophomore year and we have gotten close,” Jorda said. “We are really hoping that this is our year and we going to give it everything we have to make that happen.”