Century girls tennis coach Dan Keith wasn’t at all surprised to see Minot as the team to beat in the West Region this season.
Keith, however, was a little caught off guard by who was No. 2.
“I was really surprised, to be honest,” the Century coach said about his team being picked second in the preseason coaches’ poll. “Minot is a great team at the top, but after that I think its wide open. I think we're one of several teams that will be battling it out in that 2-3-4-5 range.”
The Patriots’ poll position was understandable considering they have the best in the West in senior Jamie Stoppler, the defending region singles champion.
“She’s one of the best players in the region, if not the state,” Keith said. “We expect big things from Jamie, but we graduated four seniors off last year’s team so after her, we have some question marks.”
Keith is very high on the potential for the rest of the lineup, however.
“This is my fourth year as coach and this is as much inexperience as we’ve had in the lineup,” he said. “What’s really exciting, though, is that we have three ninth-graders and two seventh-graders that are going to provide some very interesting competition for those spots. That makes it very exciting for the future.”
Freshman Sophia Holmen is locked into the No. 2 spot as Century heads to Minot today to compete in a quadrangular with the Majettes, Jamestown and Williston. Bismarck High, Legacy, St. Mary’s and Mandan will have a quadrangular at Capital Racquet & Fitness, beginning at 11 a.m.
Seniors Heather Davis and Katie Pitcher are challenging for spots in Century’s lineup. Then comes the young wave with freshmen Riley Lembke and Blaike Zander along with seventh-graders Ashley Kindem and Maya Kubsad. Juniors Emily Savageau and Jessica Keller also are in the mix.
“We have six or seven kids competing for the last four varsity spots,” Keith said. “It should make for some really good competition and bring out the best in all of them.”
Bismarck and Mandan follow Century in the preseason poll. Keith said it’s shaping up as an interesting race, if they ever get outside.
“It should be fun to see what happens with so many comparable teams and all those teams have quality kids,” he said. “We’ve haven’t been outside to practice yet, but everybody is dealing with the same thing.
“We’re excited for Friday to get some action and see how things begin to unfold.”
Minot is the defending region champion, led by senior Kali Askvig, who teamed with Evie Reynolds to win doubles last season in the West. Askvig has signed with the University of Mary tennis team. Her sister Cassie is an all-conference basketball player for the Marauders. … The West Region tournament will be held May 24-26 in Minot. State is the following weekend in Grand Forks. … Red River is the defending state champion, regaining the title after West Fargo Sheyenne won it in 2016, snapping Red River’s run of 14 straight state titles.