Nick and Jack Garmen defeated teammates Blake Fee and Logan Wardner in the Section Semifinals to move on.

    It seemed inevitable from the moment Section 8A released the doubles seedings. No. 1 Blake Fee (Sr.)/Logan Wardner (Sr.) and No. 4 Nick Garmen (Sr.)/Jack Garmen (Fr.) were always going to meet in the Section 8A Semifinals in Detroit Lakes.

    Such events carried out, and the two pairs did not disappoint. After a grueling three-set match, the Garmens emerged victorious and advanced to the Section Championship with a 5-7, 7-6(7-4), 6-2 win.

    "Both teams played unreal tennis," Pirates Head Coach Cody Brekken said. "It was one of the best doubles matches I’ve seen. They competed hard, emotions ran high but it was good. You’re going to feel the sting of defeat, but they’re teammates. They congratulated each other after the fact, and they both played their best tennis."

    Set number one indicated what kind of match was in store. In this rain-interrupted set, the top-seeded Fee and Wardner, state-qualifiers in 2018, escaped with a 7-5 win.

    The Garmens opened the following set 3-0 but quickly watched the lead evaporate as Fee and Wardner tied it at 4-4. The two seniors worked their way to a 6-5 lead and sat one game win away from moving on to the championship match.

    In the spirit of excitement and white knuckles, the Garmen brothers tied the set at 6-6 to force a tiebreaker which they won 7-4.

    "Roller coaster," Brekken said to describe the second set. "The Garmens were up 5-2. They ended winning but not before Wardner and Fee came back to tie. Usually in a doubles match, you don’t see so many swings of momentum. Usually one team falls behind, and they kind of shut off."

    With the sets tied at one apiece and the momentum shifted, the senior and freshman surged to a 5-2 lead in the decisive third set, never looked back and closed out the win 6-2.

    One more win will send the Garmens to the state meet. For Fee and Wardner, they will need to first win a third place match and hope their teammates, Nick and Jack, take the section crown. With this scenario, Fee and Wardner earn a true second place match and a chance to advance to the state tournament.

    "That’s a testament to [Nick and Jack]," Brekken said. "No matter the score, they’re hitting shots no different than before. So the pressure builds [for Blake and Logan] when [Jack and Nick] are winning two or three in a row, but neither team was letting them get it easily."

    Should the Garmens lose the championship match, an opportunity at state for Fee and Wardner disappears although they can still place third in the section.

    The Garmens take on No. 2 Noah Rupprecht (Jr.)/Tucker Skime (Jr.) in the championship match. Fee and Wardner face No. 6 Gabriel Hanninen (Jr.)/Trey Seebold (Sr.) in the third place match.

    The only two with any previous meetings this season came when Hanninen won a first doubles match over Fee in April. Both were playing with different teammates at the time.

Road To State

Garmens qualify for state with:

Section Championship win

Section Championship loss and Fee/Wardner third place match win

Section Championship loss and Fee/Wardner third place match loss and true second place match win

Fee/Wardner qualify for state with:

Third place match win and Garmens Section Championship win and true second place match win.

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