Nick and Jack Garmen placed second, and Blake Fee and Logan Wardner finished in third in the Section 8A Tournament.

    A chance existed for two Pirates doubles to advance to state even after No. 4 Nick Garmen (Sr.)/Jack Garmen (Fr.) beat fellow teammates No. 1 Blake Fee (Sr.)/Logan Wardner (Sr.) in the Section 8A Semifinals.

    For the Garmens, the path was simple: win the championship and go to state. They could also make state with a championship loss so long as Fee and Wardner won in the third place match, which would eliminate any potential for a true second place match.

    The latter is exactly what occurred.

    The Garmens went up against No. 2 Noah Rupprecht (Jr.)/Tucker Skime (Jr.) of Thief River Falls in the Championship Match and fell 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

    Had Fee and Wardner lost to Detroit Lakes’ No. 6 Gabriel Hanninen (Jr.)/Trey Seebold (Sr.) in the third place match, the Garmens would be required to play the DL pair in a true second place match with a trip to state on the line.

    While the Garmens were still playing, Fee and Wardner, state-qualifiers in 2018, handled their third place match in a 6-3, 6-4 win to claim bronze in the section and seal a trip to state for the Garmens.

    “[Blake and Logan] took care of business after an emotional loss,” Pirates Head Coach Cody Brekken said. “It’s very hard in 20 minutes to turn around and play good tennis. They didn’t let DL get too many games in a row or anything like that. Then they had to sit and wait and see their fate hang in the balance.”

    Following the conclusion of their match, Fee and Wardner rushed over to the Garmens' match to cheer on their teammates in hopes of getting another chance to play for a spot at state.

    The third place match ended just as the Garmens were getting ready to start their third set. Brekken does not like to update his players on other matches during their own but admitted the Garmens were well aware of the situation.

    “Nick and Jack are happy those guys took care of business so they didn’t have to play their second match,” Brekken said. “TRF is such a consistent team all around. By the time that third set came around, Nick and Jack ran out of gas a little bit. Noah and Tucker are a good doubles pair. Congrats to them.”

    Unfortunately for Fee and Wardner, since the Garmens lost the Championship Match, the road ended there for the two seniors.

    Brekken commended the pair who ended their Pirate careers with a win.

    “Those guys always came and played tough,” Brekken said. “Blake’s got the hardest shot and serve in the section. He was a tough player to beat in doubles. Logan hurt his knee [earlier in the year], and it was a testament to making up for time lost. He competed throughout and got strong in the mental game. This last month, he’s been a great tennis player. Third place in the section is a huge accomplishment.”

    For Nick Garmen, this state qualification ends a streak of disappointment. In 2017, Nick placed third in the section for doubles, and history repeated itself a year later but in the singles competition.

    “It’s awesome for Nick,” Brekken said. “He lost in that true second match last year, and the year before, he got third in doubles. So two years in a row of being denied. I’m sure he’s happy to get through this and go to state his senior year.”

    Nick and Jack will now prepare for the state meet which starts on Thursday, June 6 in Minneapolis. 

Follow live game updates for Pirates and Golden Eagles on Twitter: @CroxTimesSports or Snapchat: crookstontimes1

For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com.