Courtney Peterson graduated near the top of her Jamestown High School senior class last Sunday at the Jamestown Civic Center, roughly 24 hours after wrapping up a third-place finish at the West Region girls individual tennis tournament in Minot.
It was a moment of reflection, while still in the thick of competition, for the Blue Jays' first team all-state volleyball player and basketball starter. Peterson, a 4.0 student, has lost just three of 28 matches played at No. 2 singles this spring and will open state competition Friday in Grand Forks facing Fargo Davies' Ishika Gupta.
"It was so busy," Peterson said of Sunday's high school commencement. "I'm very thankful for everything, all the coaches, teachers, supporters, fans. Everything.
"I feel overwhelmed with joy from all that I've been blessed with for these past four years."
Peterson wasn't leaving anything to chance in her final regional competition over the weekend. She went 3-1, falling to eventual WDA champ Raquel Egge 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals before bouncing back with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 defeat of Mandan's Lizzie Allan in the third-place pairing. The performance backed what the JHS senior had set out to accomplish in 2019.
"I just think I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to work hard the whole season, just be positive and finish out strong," Peterson said. "I knew that I had to come out the first game with confidence and just go all out because it was my last WDA."
After Egge, Peterson's only other losses this season have come at the hands of a pair of senior conference doubles champions in West Fargo Sheyenne's Preeti Chemiti and Mandan's Mckenna Vogel. Peterson's 25-3 season and postseason form to this point has been no surprise to JHS girls tennis coach Paul Olson.
"I was pretty sure she was coming into the year with an attitude of not just wanting to make the state tournament," Olson said, "but wanting to place really high in the WDA and get a chance to play on Saturday and play for a place at state, rather than just being happy with qualifying."
Peterson went 1-2 at last year's state individual tourney, her first taste of state tennis competition. The 5-foot-10 senior recently signed to play volleyball at NCAA Division III Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minn., after becoming the Blue Jays' all-time career kills record holder with 1,476.
"My first match (at state) was pretty tough last year," Peterson said. "I won in three and it challenged me a lot mentally, so I know that coming into this one that it probably won't be easy and I'm ready for whatever challenges come my way."
Jamestown freshman Phoebe Olson, the coach's daughter, will also be competing at state this weekend after claiming a fifth-place finish at regionals. Olson was unable to put away triple match point against Allan, who Peterson topped for third, in the quarterfinals, but rebounded with three straight victories.
Olson defeated Dickinson's Valeria Bradley 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 for fifth and will open state play Friday against Fargo North's Lauren Harr. The Jays' No. 1 singles player is 22-7 on the season.
"I'm really proud that Phoebe was able to bounce back from that loss. She wanted to be a finalist and give herself a chance to win the thing," coach Olson said. "To be able to move on and get fifth place was really a pretty good accomplishment for her I thought."
The coach would like to see both his singles players battling for a state placing this week in Grand Forks.
"If they're still playing Saturday they still have a chance to place," Olson said. "I'd love nothing more for both of them to be able to come out with a top six finish if at all possible."