Slow starts plagued the Minot High boys tennis team in a 5-4 loss to defending West Region champion Century on Thursday on the newly reconstructed courts at Hammond Park.
The Patriots (1-0 overall, 1-0 region) stole seven of eight first sets, including five of six in singles.
"Especially in no-ad scoring, a slow start can add up quickly," Minot coach Scott DeLorme said.
Defending West Region singles champion Dustin Foster suffered his first setback of the season Thursday in a 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 loss to Century’s Joe Janes.
The Magicians (1-2, 1-2) pushed four of those six singles matches to three sets, winning two. Minot knotted the team score at 3 heading into the doubles portion, but early one-set deficits again proved too costly.
"I just thought as a team we started out really slow," DeLorme said. "... And then we found some energy and got better as we went on, but it was just a little too late."
Minot senior Dustin Foster, the defending region singles champion, discovered as much at No. 1 singles. Century senior Joe Janes tarnished Foster's previously unblemished record with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 victory at No. 1 singles. Janes then paired with Peyton Kerzmann at No. 1 doubles to beat Foster and junior Cody Reynolds 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
"In both third sets, in both singles and doubles, I kind of got down big early and that kind of took the wind out of me," Foster said. "Joe's a really good player and he just played better than me today."
After evening the match at one set apiece, Foster failed to hold serve early in both third sets. It was very unlike Minot's most top player, but no cause for concern, DeLorme said.
"Anytime we have a match that comes down to Dustin Foster on the court, we like our chances," he said. "He had one of those days today where things didn't go his way, but I just told him I'll take him in a match any day of the week and one match isn't going to define his season and our season.
Foster and Reynolds' loss in doubles put Minot in a 4-3 hole and the Patriots clinched the match with Scott Mann and Brady Jochim's 6-4, 7-5 victory at No. 3 singles over Minot's Josh Thompson and Connor Templeton.
The bright spot for the Magicians was the play of senior Drew Thomas and junior Ty Nygaard. Thomas won 6-3, 6-4 over Ronak Kumar at No. 3 singles, then paired with Nygaard to beat Kumar and Alex Horner 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 10-6 at No. 2 doubles.
"Drew's just playing really well," DeLorme said. "It was nice to see he finally won the first set and closed out in two. He's liked to go three sets. But he's just had a good start to the season."
At No. 4 singles, Nygaard squeaked out a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9) victory over Mann that lasted 3 hours.
"He likes 3-hour matches," DeLorme said. "He had one in Williston, he had one here. He's very well-conditioned. It's natural to him and he seems to get stronger as matches go on."
The Magicians host Bismarck on Sept. 4 at 4:15 p.m.
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.