Nearly every match 13-year-old Jenna Coggins plays this season will be against older, if not much older, opponents.
Youth will not be an excuse for the youngest player in Minot High School’s tennis lineup and Tuesday’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Bismarck High junior Rachel Schumaier was not unexpected.
“I’m used to playing against older players,” said Coggins, a seventh-grader. “I’ve played up in tournaments and stuff, so it doesn’t really bother me that much.”
The Majettes (2-1 overall, 2-0 West Region) had four singles wins and Coggins paired with senior Megan Sherven at No. 2 doubles for the decisive point in a 5-4 team win over the Demons (0-2, 0-2) at Cameron Indoor Tennis Center.
No. 4 Coggins was at her best moving Schumaier around the court early in points. Schumaier took a 1-0 lead in the second set and Coggins fell behind 15-40 on a double fault in the following game. Coggins forced deuce by pulling back slightly on her first serve and sending Schumaier side-to-side before the Demon upperclassman hit long to lose the game.
On both the next game point and match point, Schumaier brought Coggins to the net with well-placed drop shots only to fall by dizzying cross-court winners.
“She’s a pretty good player,” Schumaier said. “She must play a lot, but, yeah, I thought I had a chance, but she’s got some nice strokes.”
Coggins, the daughter of Cameron tennis pro Jeff Coggins, began playing at age 3 and has seen a variety of opponents having lived in seven states since she was 7 years old. Her father made several stops as a tennis instructor before the family settled in Minot five years ago.
The composed rookie has honed her game by playing United States Tennis Association tournaments throughout the Midwest while eagerly waiting on what appears to be a promising six-year scholastic career.
“It’s really fun, actually,” she said. “It’s different because you’re not just playing a tournament by yourself. You’re on a team and you get their support.”
Coggins hopes to make the state tournament this season and capture a state title before she graduates. She has plenty of time to work toward the latter.
“She’s a seventh-grader, but she’s played a lot of competitive matches,” MHS coach Scott DeLorme said. “She’s played the USTA tour, where they travel all over the Midwest, and that’s even a higher level than high school tennis. If you can play that, you can succeed here and it just shows she’s played a lot of tennis.”
BHS senior Tyne Oberlander made quick work of MHS junior Ban Dodin at No. 1 singles. Oberlander cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win as Dodin struggled to string together any momentum.
“I just really tried to keep it different every point,” Oberlander said. “Really tried to change it up, get her out of her rhythm. She’s such a strong hitter, I just did everything I could out there just to keep the ball in play every point.”
While Dodin wore down quickly, MHS senior Megan Sherven was grinding out a grueling No. 2 singles match against familiar foe senior Rachel Dodd. Sherven took the first set 6-2, dropped a tiebreak in the second and eked by for a 6-4 win in the third. Sherven beat Dodd on consecutive days last season in the West Region tournament.
“We tell Megan – we kind of make a joke about it – that every match she plays goes three sets even if she wins the first set easy,” DeLorme said. “She’s such a scrappy player, competitive, and whether she goes two or three sets, we have confidence that she’ll battle til the end win or lose.”
The Majettes play East Region foe West Fargo at 1 p.m. Saturday in Bismarck.