“Everyone was hitting to my backhand,’’ Johnson said. “With the wrist, I had no offense. I could only hit one-handed backhands. So my only option was to play doubles again.’’
That was a year ago, when he teamed with Jack Lindgren to finish second at state doubles. Johnson made good on his final chance at singles success Saturday.
The Grand Forks Red River senior added a singles title to his list of accomplishments. He beat Grand Forks Central sophomore Logan Sandberg 6-2, 7-5 in the singles final of the North Dakota state high school boys tennis tournament at Choice Health and Fitness.
“I definitely felt I had something to prove,’’ Johnson said. “I thought some people doubted me (in singles).
“I loved winning with my doubles teammates. But this is way more satisfying, proving I can play by myself and do well.’’
The championship matched differing styles. Sandberg was more aggressive trying to get to the net. Johnson was patient, staying on the baseline and consistently keeping the ball in play.
Johnson had three service breaks in winning the opening set. But he had to battle back in the second after Sandberg went ahead 5-3.
The pivotal spot was when Sandberg led 5-4 and was serving at double set point. But Johnson got the win, swept the next game, then broke service again in the final.
“When Kaden came back to get it to 5-5, you could see his confidence go up,’’ Red River coach Greg LaDouceur said. “He moved his game up to a higher gear.’’
Sandberg moved up after finishing fourth at state last season.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but I thought I played well,’’ Sandberg said. “I had set point at 5-4, but he (Johnson) grinded through it. He’s really good under pressure.’’
South wins doubles
Vic Youngs is retiring after more than 30 seasons as Fargo South’s head boys tennis coach. In his final match as a Bruins coach, he watched his son, Geoffrey Youngs, team with Max Olson to win their second straight state doubles championship.
The Youngs-Olson team beat Corby Svihovec and Parker Krom of Bismarck Legacy 6-2, 6-2 in the final.
“How can it get any better than this,’’ said Vic Youngs, whose team won the state dual title Thursday. “They (Youngs and Olson) are good friends. They like playing doubles together. They were expected to do well; that’s a lot of pressure. And they delivered.’’
The doubles team lost only one set all season while going undefeated. Winning in his father’s final match made the win more special for Geoffrey Youngs.
“It meant so much to me,’’ the senior said. “He’s coached for more than three deacades. We had to have him go out with a win. We had really good serving and controlled the net. That’s what has worked for us all year.’’
N.D. state tournament
At Choice Health & Fitness
Kaden Johnson, Red River, over Logan Sandberg, GF Central, 6-2, 7-5
Mason Pitcher, Bismarck Century, over Gary Wu, GF Central, 6-3, 2-0 (retired)
Johnson over Pitcher 6-2, 6-1; Sandberg over Wu 7-5, 6-2
Finnian O’Donnell, Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove, over Kareem Kamel, Fargo Davies, 6-3, 6-0
Kamel over Espen Schneider, GF Red River, 6-2, 6-1; O’Donnell over Michael Hallquist, Fargo North, 6-3, 6-3
Hallquist over Allen Wu, Davies, 6-2, 6-2; O’Donnell over Zach Diehl, Minot, 6-3, 6-4; Kamel over Isaac Mimong, Jamestown, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1; Schneider over Sean Joyce, Davies, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Consolation first round
Wu over Anthony Janes, Bismarck Legacy, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5; Diehl over Jared Pitcher, Century, 7-5, 6-1; Mimong over Lucas Schell, Bismarck, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3; Joyce over Korey Rennich, Century, 6-2, 6-2
Geoffrey Youngs-Max Olson, Fargo South, over Corby Svihovec-Parker Krom, Bismarck Legacy, 6-2, 6-2
John Wuitschick-Jack Wanzek, Fargo Davies, over Mason Urlacher-Ethan Raan, West Fargo Sheyenne, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-2
Svihovec-Krom over Wuitschick-Wanzek 6-4, 7-5; Youngs-Olson over Urlacher-Raan 6-1, 6-0
Braden Panzer-Chase Spicer, GF Central, over Jacob Jelinski-Kai Pierce, Shanley-Oak Grove, 6-1, 6-2
Panzer-Spicer over Jay Moylan-Nick Mathern, Legacy, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4; Jelinski-Pierce over Austin Zurn-Grant Gillett, Fargo South, 6-1, 6-1
Panzer-Spicer over Mitchell Dummer-Jaron Dufault, Fargo North, 6-1, 6-0; Moylan-Mathern over Saylor Kuenzel-Jett Weis, Red River, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3; Zurn-Gillett over Ridge Jaeger-Jack Wolsky, Minot, 6-4, 6-1; Jelinski-Pierce over Colby Nehring-Mason Haugenoe, Williston, 7-6(3), 6-1
Consolation first round
Dummer-Dufault over Ben Gartner-Coby Wolf, Mandan, 7-6(6), 6-1; Moylan-Mathern over Zach Renaud-Aiden Diehl, Minot, 6-1, 6-1; Jaeger-Wolsky over Ryder Pringle-Gage Orr, Jamestown, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7); Nehring-Haugenoe over Caleb Wanner-Jaxon Wetzel, Century, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
GF Central — Logan Sandberg, Gary Wu, Braden Panzer, Chase Spicer; GF Red River — Kaden Johnson; Fargo South — Max Olson, Geoffrey Youngs; Fargo Davies — Jack Wanzek, John Wuitschick; Fargo Shanley/Oak Grove — Finnian O’Donnell; West Fargo Sheyenne — Ethan Raan, Mason Urlacher; Bismarck Century — Mason Pitcher; Bismack Legacy — Parker Krom, Corby Svihovec
Senior athlete of the year — Geoffrey Youngs
Coach of the year — Vic Youngs, Fargo South