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Caden Branum becomes first singles state champion in Decorah’s proud tennis history
Boys’ state tennis roundup: Decorah junior beat Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Charlie LeGrand in final after runner-up finish last spring
It had to give Caden Branum a little case of deja vu.
For the second straight year, the Decorah standout had a foe from Cedar Rapids Xavier standing between him and the Class 1A boys’ state tennis singles title.
This time around, the Viking junior didn't flinch.
After losing a three-set match last year to Brady Horstmann, Branum was not about to be denied by another Saint. He played a solid match from start to finish, downing Xavier freshman Charlie LeGrand, 6-4, 6-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Byrnes Park in Waterloo, becoming the first state singles champion in school history.
“We didn't really know what to expect from (LeGrand),” said Decorah Coach Matt Anderson. “He's just a really solid player, but I'll tell you at the end, pretty much across all the courts, it was juniors and seniors who really stepped it up because they had been there and done that.”
In the 2022 final, Branum rolled to an easy first-set win over Horstmann, only to eventually lose 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
Branum said he was focused on his ultimate goal, no matter the opponent.
“It's never a surprise to see a Xavier player in the final,” Branum said. “I told myself that I wasn't going to let another guy from Xavier beat me again. I was determined to get it done today.”
Decorah has a long history of tennis success. The Vikings have had doubles champions and singles finalists, but never a champion.
“It means a lot to be the first one,” Branum said. “Decorah is a very strong tennis community. There were a lot of former players here today supporting me. It was awesome having them all here supporting me.”
No. 3 seed LeGrand was impressive in his first state tournament. He upset North Polk's Ethan Moon earlier in the day to make the final.
“He was in control in his semifinal match pretty much from the start,” said Xavier Coach Jim Potts. “In the final, the Branum kid hit with a lot of power and was very consistent. He didn't miss on a lot of shots and I think that wore Charlie down a little.”
Decorah just missed making it a Viking sweep as the unseeded doubles team of Daniel Skrade and Landon Baker made it to the final. They lost to the top-seeded Pella team of Jack Briggs and Josh Rozenboom, 6-1, 6-0 in the title match.
“They didn't quite get the cherry on top, but they ended up with a pretty good cake,” Anderson said. “They played so well the entire tournament. The Pella team was really on its game today.”
Xavier ended up with a pair of fifth-place finishers. Ryan Schmit won two singles matches on Wednesday over Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s Christian Jensen (6-1, 6-1) and Boone's Cody Overland (6-3, 6-2). The doubles team of Garrett Nurre and Jacob Schmit downed Tyler Harger and Kayden Anderson of Glenwood, 6-3, 6-1 then topped Spencer's Parker Bergstady and Sam Feldman 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
“Overall, it was a great day for our guys,” Potts said. “They all came out and played hard. The guys fighting for fifth place all really wanted that and it showed in their play.”
Class 2A boys’ state tennis roundup
In Class 2A play at Iowa City, Cedar Rapids Prairie sophomore Anthony Schulte ended up fourth in singles. He lost his semifinal match to eventual state runner-up Caleb Peterson of Ankeny Centennial, 6-2, 6-1 and fell in the consolation match to Waukee's Quinn Monson, 2-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-5)
Iowa City West’s Jayden Shin won twice on Wednesday to grab fifth place. He topped Dubuque Hempstead’s Jake Althaus, 6-1, 6-2 before downing Marshalltown’s Jason Strand, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).
Gazette area teams finished fifth, seventh and eighth in doubles play. Linn-Mar’s Zach Mersch and Malcolm Rice won a pair of matches to finish fifth. They beat teammates Garrett Bauermeister and Jackson Kramer, 6-4, 6-3, before downing Robert Matera and Jack Reilly of Bettendorf, 6-4, 6-0.
Bauermeister and Kramer bounced back to take seventh, downing Iowa City West’s Shivy Mannengi and Samir Singh, 7-5, 6-3. The West duo lost their opening Wednesday match to Matera and Reilly, 7-5, 6-4.
Class 1A boys’ state tennis results
Caden Branum (Decorah) def. Charlie LeGrand (Cedar Rapids Xavier), 6-4, 6-1
Branum def. Easton Moon (North Polk), 6-1, 7-6 (7-5); LeGrand def. Ethan Moon (North Polk), 6-2, 6-3
Ryan Schmit (Xavier) def. Christian Jensen (Council Bluffs Lewis Central) 6-1, 6-1
5th: R. Schmit def. Cody Overland (Boone), 6-3, 6-2
Jack Briggs/Josh Rozenboom (Pella) def. Daniel Skrade/Landon Baker (Decorah), 6-1, 6-0
Skrade/Baker def, Charlie Curtiss/Roan Martineau (Dubuque Wahlert), 6-2, 6-4
Garrett Nurre/Jacob Schmit (Xavier) def. Tyler Harger/Kayden Anderson (Glenwood) 6-3, 6-1
5th Place: Nurre/J. Schmit def. Parker Bergstadt/Sam Feldman (Spencer), 7-6 (7-4) 6-3,
Class 2A boys’ state tennis results
Kaden Taylor (Waukee Northwest) def. Caleb Peterson (Ankeny Centennial), 6-3, 6-3
Peterson def. Anthony Schulte (Cedar Rapids Prairie), 6-2, 6-0
Jayden Shin (Iowa City West) def. Jake Althaus (Dubuque Hempstead), 6-1, 6-2
3rd Place: Quinn Monson (Waukee) def. Schulte, 2-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-5)
5th Place: Shin def. Jason Strand (Marshalltown), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3)
Kellan Croatt/Jake Nelson (Waukee Northwest) def. Folo Adekunle/Aaron Ingram (Pleasant Valley), 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1
Semifinals: Zach Mersch/Malcolm Rice (Linn-Mar) def. Garrett Bauermeister/Jackson Kramer (Linn-Mar), 6-4, 6-3
Robert Matera/Jack Reilly (Bettendorf) def. Shivy Mannengi/Samir Singh (Iowa City West) 7-5, 6-4
5th Place: Mersch/Rice def. Matera/Reilly), 6-4, 6-0
7th place: Bauermeister/Kramer def. Mannengi/Singh, 7-5, 6-3