Game. Set. Championship: Majettes begin title defense

Adam Papin/MDN Minot High’s Sidney Ressler returns a two-handed backhand last season. Ressler was a key member of last year’s squad that won the state team championship, and she also finished fourth in the state singles’ tournament.

Deep and close.

To understand why the Minot High School girls’ tennis team is starting the season as a favorite to repeat as state champions this season, focus on those two words: deep and close.

Just how deep are the Majettes? After last season’s title run, team members focused on the state singles and doubles tournament, and two earned all-state honors with fourth and fifth place finishes in the singles competition.

One would expect all-state honors on a team that just won state. However, what was so remarkable was who earned the selections. First was freshman Kylie Fettig, who played No. 2 singles during the season and finished fifth overall at the tournament. But more remarkable was junior Sydney Ressler, who placed fourth after spending most of the year at No. 4 or No. 5 singles on her own team. Ressler was Minot High’s top finisher.

The Majettes did see Halle Mattson and Sabryn Ronning graduate, but the rest of the core is back including senior Sienna Ronning and the Olson sisters: Grace, a sophomore, and Lila, a junior.

A number of players are competing for the roster spots opened by the Mattson and Ronning graduations, including Addison Dittus, Ava Thuner and Reese Goodman.

The competition for spots is fierce. According to the coaches, many junior varsity players for the Majettes would be starting for many other schools’ varsity team. The squad is that deep.

“Our strength is our depth,” said Minot High girls’ tennis head coach Scott DeLorme. “We just have a lot of girls that can play singles and doubles. “When they get on the court, they all want to win. They have that toughness. They might have a great time on the bus and in the motel room as they are getting ready for things, but when it’s time to play tennis, every single one of them is ready to go.”

Delorme praised the balance of mental toughness with an openness to play with anyone, jumping at opportunities to play with new partners.

“Their ultimate goal is to win titles, whether it’s the West Region title, state titles, individual titles, they all have that same mindset that we’re good enough to beat a lot of people,” said DeLorme.

A quirk of format makes that depth more valuable during the regular season than during tournaments. During the regular season, teams play six singles matches and three doubles matches, putting a premium on depth. However, tournaments see the number of matches cut to three singles and two doubles matches.

“It’s different. Where depth may be an advantage for the six-three, it’s definitely tougher,” said DeLorme. “In a straight six-three lineup, we would really like our team with so many different combinations. But you go to three-two and Dickinson’s got two very good singles players. Out East, [West Fargo] Sheyenne’s got two very good singles players. When you have those at the top of your three-two lineup, teams can steal wins. And it’s high school athletics. You get down a bit, you never know where things can go.”

Kylie Fettig and Sidney Ressler are likely to compete for the No. 1 singles position, although coaches are still fine-tuning lineups.

Fettig took major steps towards improving both her game and her mental toughness when she attended a tennis camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

“The level of tennis is a lot different down there,” said Fettig. “It was pretty cool because you can be competitive here, but you go down there and kind of get your butt kicked. It was both really cool and it was a good growth experience.”

Teammate Sienna Ronning was glad to see the team win the title last year, especially for the seniors who had been on the team for a long time and hadn’t broken through prior to last spring.

“I think a repeat would be even more special because we have so much talent on the team and I think we’re capable,” said Ronning.

Both Fettig and Ronning wanted to be interviewed together, and they spent much of it feeding off each other’s answers in a way that revealed how close the teammates are with one another.

That ability to forge closeness among the team might be the Majettes’ greatest weapon, especially considering the team is composed of girls from Minot High, Bishop Ryan and Our Redeemer’s, the latter two who co-op with the former.

Fettig is a sophomore at Our Redeemer’s while Ronning is a senior at Bishop Ryan, yet watching the two, one would think they were best friends and classmates from kindergarten.

“The dynamic is so, so good. And that is so important,” said Ronning. “And the depth that we have is also super impressive, because even last year, the year before, we’ve had that for so long, so I think that’s a huge factor on our team.”

Fettig believes the length of the season contributes to the closeness of the team.

“A big thing is that our season is so short,” said Fettig. “We spend so much time together that we could get sick of each other, but since we don’t go to school [together], we’re not competing in that aspect. We can just come to practice, and we can compete.”

Ressler, who attends Minot High, spoke to the togetherness as well.

“We just play together all the time. We always talk out of season. We’ve got all these tournaments together. We hang out outside of just the team,” said Ressler. “I think all of us are just super good friends. We can rely on each other for literally anything. Being friends with your teammates makes your teamwork that much better.”

All the players are aware of the increased expectations that come with being a defending state champion.

“Expectations are definitely high,” said Ressler. “There’s a lot of pressure riding on us this year. I don’t think it’s anything we can’t handle.”

DeLorme agrees.

“We’re fortunate we have great leaders. We have great kids just coming into the program. They know the expectations.”


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