On April 12, the Dickinson High girls tennis team began its 2019 campaign at the Minot Invitational. There, the Midgets lost 3-2 in non-conference doubles action to the defending state champion, Minot High.
Since then, Dickinson has been on a roll, winning its next five matches and compiling an undefeated mark in conference play.
Nearly three weeks since their initial meeting, the two teams linked up at the Dickinson High tennis courts on Thursday, May 2, and while the Midgets' WDA record is no longer unscathed following a 5-4 defeat to the Majettes, the home team left the day knowing that it can compete with one of the best teams in the state.
"Well, this gives me a lot of hope," Dickinson head coach Lia Bradley said. "We hadn't played a team this strong (in this stretch) and I didn't know how we would do against them, but it gives me a lot of hope against the other teams. I'm very optimistic and it's a positive day, even though we lost."
Minot had the edge in singles competition, capturing four of the six matches. When the No. 1 Majettes team of senior Raquel Egge and sophomore Morgan Wheeler defeated Midgets senior Lauren Jorda and sophomore Emma Dazell, the visitors clinched the overall victory with two more doubles matches to go.
"We had some good moments," Minot head coach Scott DeLorme. "We have some young kids who are starting to learn how to compete at this level. ... On a day like today, we were fortunate to come out 5-4. Dickinson is a heck of a team, and they're young, but I thought our young kids stepped up and had a good day for us."
While Wheeler and freshman Eden Olsen were among the singles winners for Minot, it was senior Raquel Egge who had the highlight of the day in her back-and-forth battle with junior Anna Stankova.
Egge entered the match with just one loss, while Stankova had yet to drop a set in singles competition this season. The two No. 1 players put on a show, each producing a number of highlight winners and saves, but at match's end, Egge emerged on top 7-5, 7-5.
"She's kind of new to North Dakota tennis, but she's great," Egge said of Stankova. "She's nice, she's fair and she obviously knows what she's doing. She's really consistent, which is kind of fun, because I'm not known for having a super powerful stroke or anything. It's mainly consistency, so it was kind of cool playing someone like yourself, even though it's more challenging."
After taking the last three games to win the first set in come-from-behind fashion, Egge dropped the first four games of the second set. It was there she drew inspiration from her late father to overcome her early deficit, winning seven of the next eight games to take the match.
"My dad used to engrave 'Never Quit' on iPads and Apple watches and stuff. It was his motto as he battled through cancer," Egge said. "I use that to go through matches and make him proud."
The final match of the day featured the only two girls who won singles for Dickinson: eighth-grader Malayna Schneider and seventh-grader Valeria Bradley.
The duo won its first set against Olsen and junior Sidney Fettig 6-3, before the Majettes pairing won the second frame by the same margin. In the third and deciding set, Schneider and Bradley could not maintain an early advantage and fell behind 6-5, causing Schneider to occasionally smack her racket on the ground in frustration in between points.
"That's just something I do. I just hit my racket on the ground and say. 'You can do better; that's just a silly mistake,'" Schneider said.
She regrouped though, as the Dickinson youngsters forced a third-set tiebreak. The eighth-grader captured match point with a forehand winner down the line.
"It was great competition," Schneider said. "It was a nice challenge. We pulled through, and I'm proud."
Minot 5, Dickinson 4
Singles: 1, Raquel Egge, M, def. Anna Stankova, 7-5, 7-5. 2, Eden Olsen, M, def. Lauren Jorda, 6-0, 6-1. 3, Valeria Bradley, D, def. Sofia Egge, 6-0, 6-2. 4, Joelle Fettig, M, def. Emma Dazell, 6-2, 6-3. 5, Malayna Schneider, D, def. Sidney Fettig, 6-0, 6-1. 6, Morgan Wheeler, M, def. Alexa Cofer, 6-1, 6-4.
Doubles: 1, R. Egge/Wheeler, M, def. Jorda/Dazell, 6-2, 6-1. 2, Stankova/Cofer, D, def. S. Egge/J. Fettig, 6-4, 6-3. 3, Bradley/Cofer, D, def. Olsen/S. Fettig, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6).