BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FAIRFIELD – The fun story of a couple of twins from Holy Trinity Catholic continues to unfold as Jason and Vasin Thurman earned a return trip to the Byrnes Park Tennis Center in Waterloo May 24-25th and the Iowa State Tennis Tournament.
This time the two, who play for Fort Madison High School in a shared tennis program, will be taking HTC senior Sam Avery along for the ride.
The Thurmans swept through the doubles field at Friday’s Class 1A district tennis meet at Fairfield Middle School and will have a seeded-spot at the state tourney.
Senior Sam Avery was the top seed at the districts in singles action, but was tripped up by West Burlington/Notre Dame’s Travis Wills in the finals 6-3, 6-3.
‘He played a really thought-out match and was really consistent today. He really played a good match and was more relaxed than I was. He’s a good player,” Avery said.
In 2018 Avery teamed up with senior Austin Krueger in doubles and just missed following the Thurman’s to the state meet, so the trip this year is a goal reached.
“I’ve been trying to do this since I was a sophomore and I’m really glad to know I am able to do it in my senior year.”
Avery got a bye in the first round and then knocked off Mt. Pleasant’s Clayton Henriksen 6-1, 6-0. In the semi’s Avery moved easily past Davis County’s Luke Snyder 6-2. 6-1. to set up the championship with Wills.
Wills dumped Keokuk’s Abbot Haner in the semi’s 6-1, 6-4 and then got a 20 minute break before the title match.
Avery opened the match with a win on serve, but then Wills would take the next three games for a 1-4 lead. Avery would break Wills service to go to 2-4 and then would close out his next service game to get with in one at 3-4 in the first set.
Avery, touting one of the fastest serves in the field, had trouble getting his first serve in and was regularly forced to put the second in play allowing Wills to get into each point. Wills would break Avery at 3-6 to win the first set.
In the second set Wills jumped out to the early lead 0-1, but Avery would battle back to take a 3-2 lead. Wills again would break serve in the next game and then retake the lead 4-3 on his own serve. Avery struggled again to get his first serve in and was broken again to trail 3-5. At 0-30 in the final game, Avery just missed on a running forehand to his right that fell just outside the lane, and a strong overhand by Wills put the match away on the next point.
Avery will go to the singles tournament in the at-large pool. Wills will get a seed for winning the district.
The Thurman twins had very little trouble in breezing through the districts receiving byes in the first two rounds. The duo drubbed Keokuk’s Kaden Stoneking and Callum Tackes 6-0, 6-1, before rolling Davis County’s Kade Tharp and Noah Zmolek by the same score.
The two then faced off against Mt. Pleasant’s Corbin Broeker and Jaxon Hoyle.
Hoyle and Broeker took the Thurman brothers to a 6-5 first set lead and had the Bloodhounds off balance. A short conversation with head coach Dean Hogan seemed to right the ship as the two won the next two games for a 7-5 first set win and then rolled to a 6-2 win for the title.
“They stayed in the mode they usually do and took to openings created by the opposition,” Hogan said. “They’re good about getting the ball deep into the court and they just have that natural chemistry being together their whole lives.”
He said the two had to wait so long between matches, it kind of hurt their cadence in the title match.
“We talked about energizing and moving feet faster and attack the net as we do in other practices and dual matches. They were just playing flat and realized they weren’t playing up to their potential and they did,” Hogan said.
“These kids at Mt. Pleasant and the Wills kids at Notre Dame are just like backboards and they keep the ball in play.”
Hogan said Wills just kept more balls in play in the title match.
“Travis is a backboard himself and today he seemed to have a higher percentage of shots in. They both played the net very well. Sam came up short, but he’s working hard and playing hard.”
Fort Madison won the district team event with 20 points and advances to substate team action in Pella Saturday morning.
Vasin Thurman said having a year of state experience under his belt will help this year.
“We know that’s going to be a lot tougher competition than there is here, but we’re ready for that. We’ve been preparing for that since last year,” Vasin said.
“We see a lot different stuff up there and those guys play a lot of tennis and hit the ball a lot harder than we’re used to seeing.”
Jason said success this year will be not to finish where they did last year, which Vasin said with a smile, was “dead last’.
“We’re more prepared this year. It’s still going to be tough tennis, but we’d like to finish in the top 8, maybe top 5,” Jason said.
Keokuk sophomore Abbot Haner captured third place in the singles division with a consolation win over Snyder.
Haner also sent the Bloodhounds’ Reed Fehseke home in the second round with a 6-1, 6-4 win.
Fehseke is playing in his first year of organized tennis and won his first match over Austin Dell of Centerville 6-0, 6-0 before falling to Haner.
“It was really whoever was serving was in command until the very end and then he started hitting to my backhand. He’s a good player and pretty smart,” Fehseke said.
Haner said he’s struggled finding control of his backhand this year and Wills was able to capitalize on that.
“I thought I played well on my serves and forehands, but my backhand need a little work,” the sophomore said.
“Wills kept nailing them at my backhand and it’s not good enough to keep all the balls in play, but I’ll work on that more.”
Fort Madison Levi Sissell and Bryce Workman were eliminated by Davis County’s Trevor Slayton and Carson Zeitler, 6-0, 6-2 in first round action.