Relying on experience

There are plenty of fresh faces this season for the Minot High girls tennis team, but don’t think for a second that the Majettes won’t be as competitive – if not more so – than last season.

The Majettes lost a few key contributors to last year’s fourth-place finish at the state tournament, led by all-stater Megan Sherven (75-41 career record). Minot also lost Cally Sessions and Katie Wilson.

Seven newcomers to the varsity level – one senior, three sophomores, one freshman and two eighth-graders – are competing to fill those spots. The Majettes still have experience with senior Ban Dodin at No. 1 singles, who has won 63 career matches.

“A few are definitely gone, but we bring back a lot, too,” Minot coach Scott DeLorme said. “We’ll start at the top of our lineup with Ban Dodin, she’s been the No. 1 the last couple years and we expect her to have a big year and then Jenna Coggins right behind her. We’ll rely on those two at the beginning of the year to carry us.”

Dodin and Coggins, an eighth-grader, will be paired as No. 1 doubles. Dodin spent most of last season played No. 1 doubles with Wilson, who did not return for her senior season. Coggins was named all-state last year.

“It’s a struggle whenever you lose good players,” Dodin said. “We lost three good players, so it will be more difficult this year, but hopefully we can compensate for that.

“We have a lot of new faces, a lot of people who are really excited to compete. It’s better to want to compete and play against a team with more experienced players who maybe don’t put as much effort in because tennis is really unpredictable. On a good day, anybody can upset a good team.”

DeLorme said senior Kendra Collins and junior Latasha Klein will serve as No. 2 doubles, but he’s yet to determine No. 3 doubles. Klein will play No. 3 singles behind Dodin and Coggins.

“It’s kind of stressful,” Klein said. “I just hope I do good in the matches I play because I know I’ll be playing higher-ranked players. I just hope to win at least a couple singles matches.”

The Majettes are hoping for continued success after knocking off Century in the West Region semifinals and losing by the slimmest of margins to St. Mary’s in the region championship. Minot won its state quarterfinal match against Valley City before falling to 12-time defending team champion Grand Forks Red River in the semifinals. GFRR has won the past seven state doubles titles as well.

“Red River is the favorite for about the 17th year in a row, but teams are getting closer,” DeLorme said. “Players are slowly but surely catching up. But you have to give them credit, they keep winning every year.”

DeLorme said St. Mary’s and Century are the favorites to win the region this year, but believes Minot’s not too far behind them. St. Mary’s returns Caitlin Bakke, the defending state singles champion.

“On the right day, we can play with either of them,” DeLorme said. “We like our depth, maybe more than some other teams. When you get to tournament time in a 3-2 format (three singles, two doubles), when you have a player like Ban who can win matches, we think we can have a successful season.”

The Majettes open their season against Williston on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Tennis Center.

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and the Minot Minotauros. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.