With a chance to improve its seeding for the upcoming West Region tournament, the Dickinson High girls tennis team dropped its regular-season finale to arguably the best squad in the conference.
Completing an undefeated season in WDA play, Mandan doubled up the Midgets 6-3 on Saturday, May 18, from the West River Community Center.
The Braves will enter the West Region tournament as the top seed while Dickinson will be the No. 3 seed.
"I'm very proud of the girls this regular season and have high hopes for regionals," Midgets head coach Lia Bradley said.
Doubles matches began action in the morning as the visitors won two of the three contests. Mandan seventh-grader Sophia Felderman and sophomore Brianna Helbing earned a three-set victory by outlasting Dickinson seventh-grader Valeria Bradley and eighth-grader Malayna Schneider 6-0, 6-7 (5), 6-0. Elsewhere, the team of sophomore Elizabeth Felderman and senior McKenna Vogel moved by the Midgets No. 1 duo of senior Lauren Jorda and sophomore Emma Dazell 6-4, 6-1.
"They just hit their shots really well. They have top spin and they have slice shots," Jorda said of her doubles opponents. "When they both come up to the net, they're really, really strong."
Dickinson's lone doubles triumph came from its No. 2 team in the lineup, as junior Anna Stankova and senior Alexa Cofer defeated sophomores Elizabeth Allen and Kate Kesler 6-4, 6-2.
At the top of the singles lineup, Stankova lost only her second match of the season, falling to Felderman 6-4, 6-4. Joining the Midgets this season as a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic, Stankova finished the regular season with a 12-2 record, good for the third-best mark in the conference among No. 1 players. The junior will return home at the end of the postseason.
Facing off against Sophia Felderman, Dazell captured the first set 6-2 but lost the next two 6-4, 6-1. Co-captains Jorda and Cofer dropped their singles as well, in what was their last time playing in front of their home crowd.
"I'm definitely going to miss a lot of my team and competing," Cofer said. "I know Lauren and I are sad that it's our last home match, and Anna goes back to Czech next year, so it's her last home match, too. It's just really heartwarming and sad at the same time."
Jorda, a member of the Dickinson High volleyball and basketball programs, added, "It's my third sport where it's my last home match and it kind of hits hard, but it's been a great season and I wouldn't change anything."
During the most competitive battle of the day, Bradley relinquished a tight first set of her singles match to Allen 6-7 before storming back, taking the next two frames 6-3, 6-0. In her debut season with the Midgets, the seventh-grader improved to 12-2, which was best in the West Region for No. 3 players.
Polishing off an undefeated regular season at 14-0 as Dickinson's No. 5 player, Schneider captured the team's other singles victory when she prevailed over Kesler in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. The eighth-grader holds a 24-1 mark over her first two seasons with the team.
The West Region tournament will start on Thursday in Minot, as the Midgets will try to make it to state for the first time since 2015.
"I think this year, we are just really strong as a team overall," Cofer said. "There's no big gaps in between and we've been competing really well, which is a great way to finish off our tennis season.
"I think that we're definitely going in confident and with our heads held high. And it definitely helps that we have Anna for WDA and state, if we make it that far, which I hope we do."
Mandan 6, Dickinson 3
Singles: 1, Elizabeth Felderman, M, def. Anna Stankova, 6-4, 6-4. 2, McKenna Vogel, M, def. Lauren Jorda, 6-4, 6-1. 3, Valeria Bradley, D, def. Elizabeth Allen, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0. 4, Sophia Felderman, M, def. Emma Dazell, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. 5, Malayna Schneider, D, def. Kate Kesler, 6-4, 6-2. 6, Brianna Helbing, M, def. Alexa Cofer, 6-0, 6-2.
Doubles: 1, E. Felderman/Vogel, M, def. Jorda/Dazell, 6-1, 6-4. 2, Stankova/Cofer, D, def. Allen/Kesler, 7-5, 6-4. 3, S. Felderman/Helbing, def. Bradley/Schneider, 6-0, 6-7 (5), 6-0.