Tanner Janorschke and Mason LaPlante were both eliminated in the first round of singles.

    This year’s Section 8A Individual Tournament in Detroit Lakes presents a twist for the Crookston Pirates. On one hand, Crookston is pleased to watch two of their doubles teams advance to the third round. On the other, this means they will now face each other for the right to compete for a section championship.

    It puts Pirates Head Coach Cody Brekken in an awkward situation as he will serve as the coach for both Blake Fee (Sr.)/Logan Wardner (Sr.) and Nick Garmen (Sr.)/Jack Garmen (Fr.)

    “I’ve seen them go at it in practice, and they never really turn it on in practice,” Pirates Head Coach Cody Brekken said on how the teammates match up. “It’ll be interesting to see their demeanor, but it makes my job easier. I can just let them play. I’m excited to see who can take the stress of it all and overcome it.”

    Fee and Wardner earned the No. 1 seed in the section tournament and reached the semis following a bye and a win over No. 8 Blake Felch (Sr.)/Parker Anderson (Sr.) of East Grand Forks.

    The seniors experienced a bit of a scare losing the first set 7-5 but regrouped and stole the next two sets in dominant fashion 6-0 and 6-1.

    Fee and Wardner also went through a bit of trouble in the first set of their Section 8A Team Tournament match before winning 7-6(7-5), 6-0.  

    “We talk about how critical the first games are in a set,” Brekken said. “Especially with the pressure of knowing they’re one of the best out there. You can see the nervous energy going. It takes a bit, but you can see when they get the success. They just have to calm down and be patient.”

    The Garmens, ranked fourth, needed two victories to qualify for semifinals, and they did just that downing No. 13 Nathan Cihak (Fr.)/Connor Zamzon (8th Grade) from Detroit Lakes 6-3, 6-3 and No. 5 Noah Tarczon (So.)/Matt Niblock (So.) of Fergus Falls 6-2, 6-0.

    “In the first one, they had a little growing pains,” Brekken said. “Nick played a lot of singles during the year, and Jack is back and forth. They had some making  up to do. After that, they were full steam ahead. After taking care of that first match, their reaction time and smarts got them ahead early and sucked the life out the other team.”

    The Pirate pair that loses the semifinals match can still qualify for state via true second, but they will need to first win a third-place match and hope the Pirate team that beat them goes on to win the championship.

    Brekken knows a chance exists for both teams to reach state but says it will be a difficult path for whoever loses in the semifinals.

    “As for which doubles pair will have a better shot of coming back [after a loss], I don’t really have an answer,” Brekken said. “Both teams left [Thief River Falls and Perham] are tough teams. Whoever wins between the Crookston kids, the other will be rooting for them to win.”

    The semifinals and finals were originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 22 but have been moved to Thursday, May 23 in anticipation of unfavorable weather on Wednesday.

    Crookston also sent two singles players to the tournament: No. 14 Mason LaPlante (Sr.) and No. 11 Tanner Janorschke (Sr.).

    Janorschke nearly pulled off the upset over Detroit Lakes’ No. 6 Braeden Wimmer (So.) but eventually fell 6-3, 6-7(5-7), 6-4. LaPlante dropped his match 6-0, 6-0 to No. 3 Benjamin Kern (Sr.) of EGF.

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