Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
BURLINGTON — Fairfield’s Garrett Flanagan and Jace Hannes are clicking at the right time. One day after clawing through a tough field to earn a state doubles berth, the two were back at it again on Tuesday, winning their first-ever Southeast Conference title.
The pair won the SEC doubles title in an All-Union area clash against Mt. Pleasant’s Owen Vansickel and Jake Ensminger. The Trojans dominated the first set and won a back-and-forth second for a 6-1, 6-4 victory.
There’s no doubt the duo is playing their best tennis. The Trojans say communication has been key in their big run.
“It's just being able to talk with each other and understanding what we're going to do and how we're going to do it,” Hannes said.
Hannes and Flanagan began their day with a sweep of the eighth-seeded Keokuk team, beating them 6-0, 6-0. The Trojans traded punches against Burlington’s top doubles team in the semifinals but pulled out both sets, winning 6-4, 6-4.
Over a two-day stretch, the Trojans’ top men are 6-1 with their only loss coming to Xavier’s top doubles team in Monday’s district final. Flanagan says the uptick and competition has helped sharpen their skills even in the most high-pressure matches.
“It has definitely made us better,” Flanagan said. “In that game when Mt. Pleasant would keep hitting the down-line shots, and we weren't ready for them, because nobody does that.”
The Panthers’ top duo had a similar road to the title match. Vansickel and Ensminger stumped Fort Madison’s top doubles team 6-0, 6-1 in the opening round and had to battle against Burlington as well, taking down the No. 2 Grayhound squad 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals.
The tournament final wasn’t the only Trojan-Panther matchup at the end of the day. Mt. Pleasant’s Levi Graber and Lincoln Henriksen defeated Fairfield’s Aidan Flanagan and Jack Unger 8-3 in the fifth-place game.
Mt. Pleasant’s Tim Cam had a nice run in the singles tournament. Cam took fourth place overall.
Cam scored a thrilling 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 victory over Keokuk’s Brendon Worster in the opening round. He fell to eventual SEC champion Tyce Berthlshofer of Burlington 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals, and then dropped a nail-biter, 9-7, against Keokuk’s Ivan Lopez in the third-place game.
In other singles action, Mt. Pleasant’s Elliot Cook finished fifth place. Dil Hurlin of Fairfield ended the day in seventh.
The conference championship was already won in the regular season by Burlington. The team race is not decided by the conference tournament.