BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – They were born on July 30, 2003…both of them and 15 years later they’re headed to the Iowa High School boys state tennis tournament on May 25 in Waterloo.
Jason and Vasin Thurman, who just started getting serious about tennis over the past year, qualified with a wonderful run through districts knocking off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds at Fairfield Maharishi in doubles competition Wednesday.
The two boys from Holy Trinity Catholic play in a shared program agreement with Fort Madison High School under head coach Dean Hogan and went 9-16 during a better-than-expected regular season.
At Wednesday’s district action the two were seeded 15th out of 16 doubles teams and quickly knocked off Abbott and Gavin Haner of Keokuk, the No. 2 seed in the district tournament 6-4, 6- 4. That win put them up against the No. 3 seed from Fairfield in Dante Cingari and Logan Williams and the Thurmans took that match in two sets 6-4, 6-2.
After winning in the top half of the bracket, the next match was against Fairfield Maharishi’s 8th seeded doubles squad of Kartik Venpate and Bhavani Allison. Jason and Vasin won the first set in a close 7-5 score then dropped the 2nd set 6-7 with a 3-7 tiebreaker, but came back to win the third tiebreaker set 6-1 to advance to the top doubles team in the district in Maharishi’s Kai Vessay and Devan Burke who ended the Thurmans’ day with a 6-1, 6-0 loss.
When the two enter the state tournament they will be the only underclassmen who made it out of districts in doubles play. All the other competition will be from juniors and seniors.
The two have set a conservative goal for the tournament considering they knocked off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds at districts.
Just to win a match.
“I think a good tournament for us would be getting at least one win. That would be nice. To win a match,” Vasin said.
The two are clearly on the same page.
“Maybe winning a match…,” Jason said. “We’ll be playing against some really good competition. So yeah..if we could win a match I think I would be happy with that.”
Hogan said it’s hard to tell how the tournament will shake out because the Thurmans have beaten good competition this year.
“It’s kind of hard to say,” Hogan said. They’ve been playing really well. They upset the number one players from Keokuk and two seniors from Fairfield that were their Nos. 1 and 2 players at both schools. They played some pretty powerful kids including the Maharishi team which is a top quality team. They’ve got their work cut out and depends on the luck of the draw and where you’re going to be placed. Maharishi will be in the opposite bracket. They will probably be seeded No. 1, that’s my thought. The only way we would meet up with them is in the finals.”
He gave a lot of credit for the twins’ success to Sam Avery and Austin Krueger, the team’s No. 1 doubles unit and No. 1 and No. 2 singles players.
“I got to give credit to Sam and Austin,” Hogan said. “Those are the two guys that have been my go-to team members that have helped them along in becoming better players. And Jason and Vasin’s mom said they often go over to the courts at HTC to work by themselves. Sam has been with them and Austin has been with them so that’s been a good peer situation with them through the season.”
He said for freshmen, the two play a very controlled, slower pace and look for gaps on the court.
“They play their game, they don’t play an uptempo game like a lot of the older players that have played several years. They play their pace and that throws off the opposition. Most kids like to play power with power and these fine Thurman brothers are patient, deliberate, and take time within reason. They analyze and try to focus on the game plan of playing one player at a time in doubles and not two. You select one and you play that player the best you can and wear them down.”
The two started playing tennis just going over to city courts and hitting the ball around.
“We weren’t very serious…and we weren’t very good,” Vasin said. “But then we started playing with Sam Avery for a while and he got us excited about it and then we started working with coach Hogan.”
Avery, also from HTC, was the team’s No. 1 singles player for the year and also anchored the No. 1 doubles team with Austin Krueger.
Jason said the obvious chemistry that exists between the two after growing up and playing different sports with each other their whole lives is helping the on-court performance.
“A lot of it’s our chemistry. We kind of just know where each other is at on the court. But coach also put in a new formation when we’re serving. We didn’t really do it during the season because we wanted to save it for conference and districts. The guy in the net is in a different spot than he usually is and they’re having trouble reacting to it,” Jason said.
Vasin said the new formation helped a lot in the district tournament.
“It makes it harder for the people to return. They don’t see that formation very often and when we bring it out they don’t know to react to it. It’s usually hit right at the poacher or the poacher will eventually get a shot at it,” he said.
The two also played singles with Jason in the No. 3 spot and Vasin in the No. 5 hole.
Through April, Jason had a game record of 123-65, with an 8-2 match record and 16-5 set record. Vasin was 8-1 in matches at No. 5 with a 16-4 set record and 116-65 in total games.
The two were 9-7 in doubles matches through April.
The tournament will be held at the Byrnes Park Tennis Center in Waterloo starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 25.