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Sioux Falls Christian wins first girl tennis title

Ryleigh Tupper
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Two years ago, the Sioux Falls Christian boys won their first state tennis title, and now this fall, the Chargers girls program achieves a state championship of their own.

The team race was fairly tight between Sioux Falls Christian, St. Thomas More, and Rapid City Christian throughout the two day event, but ultimately it was the Chargers who came out on top when the action concluded with 448.5 team points for the tournament. St. Thomas More placed second with 416.5, and Rapid City Christian came it at third with 397.5 points.

“All the credit goes to the girls, they worked super hard during the offseason, and they played really great,” said Sioux Falls Christian girls tennis coach Matt Westenberg. “All the credit to them, and to God be the glory, the girls performed really well.”

The Chargers won a total of four flights, three in singles and one in doubles. Anna Westenberg won Singles Flight 3, Jade TenHaken was victorious in Singles Flight 4, and Kasey Lemstra took first in Singles Flight 6. The Doubles team of Westenberg and TenHaken also won Doubles Flight 2.

Even though it wasn’t a dominant sweep of flights, the placement finishes amongst the others proved to be just as valuable in the championship push for the Sioux Falls Christian team. Both Halle Karmazin (Singles Flight 2) and Elsje VanderDussen (Singles Flight 5) placed runner-up, and Elsa Johnson took fifth in Singles Flight 1.

The Doubles Team of VanderDussen and Lemstra finished third in Flight 3 and Johnson and Karmazin grabbed fifth in Flight 1. It truly was a team effort in gathering as many points as possible.

“We talked a lot about that. There’s going to be disappointments along the way. We knew we weren’t going to win all the flights, but it’s super important to respond after a loss, bounce back and either get third place or bounce back and either get fifth place, and all of our girls did that,” said coach Westenberg. “The ones that lost, they all finished as high as they could, after they lost.”

Anna Westenberg, who is an eighth grader on Sioux Falls Christian’s squad, is the daughter of coach Matt Westenberg.

“It’s special. It makes the high moments even higher, and it makes the low and tough moments even harder, but [Anna’s] a great kid and she’s worked hard on her game,” Westenberg said. “It’s so much fun, very proud.”

With Johnson, Karmazin, TenHaken, and VanderDussen all set to graduate this coming spring, spots are set to be available for the younger, up and coming players.

“We try to build our program from the ground up, and include families and younger kids, and so we really want younger kids to play,” explained Westerberg. “We do a lot of inter-team tournaments and tournaments with other kids and get them involved with the program early, and then they’re ready to play once we need them.”

This is the fifth season of girls tennis in South Dakota that has been under the umbrella of the two-class system. Mitchell won the state ‘A’ title for girls in ’19, ’20, and ’21, Pierre won it last year, and now Sioux Falls Christian reigned supreme in 2023.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.