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Ally Burger admitted she didn't see herself winning a Class 1A state doubles championship before the season started.
"I wasn't thinking about the state championship," she said, "but I did think we could go pretty far."
Burger and doubles partner Courtney Carstensen went as far as possible. The Xavier juniors came to the state meet as the No. 2 seed and left Thursday with the championship trophy, downing Fairfield's Nellie Higdon and Yana Gaskell, 6-2, 6-2, at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.
The Saints also had a runner-up and third-place finish at the meet. Senior Miyako Coffey had five match points in an epic third-set tiebreaker with Waterloo Columbus standout Sasha Hyacinth, but could not get that final point. Hyacinth got the winner on her fourth match point to win 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (12-10).
Xavier's second doubles team of Ella Tallett and Avery Link, after losing to Higdon and Gaskell in the semifinals, came back to take third with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 victory over Chloe Butler and Avery Hogan of Waterloo Columbus.
"It was an absolutely great day of tennis for us," Xavier Coach Matt Foxhoven said. "Courtney and Ally just went out and handled their business in the final. They faced some adversity, losing the second set of the semifinal, but they regrouped during that time and came back to play the way they should.
“In the final, they handled everything so well from the start. They didn't get too caught up in the moment and just did what they needed to do to get that win.”
Burger and Carstensen (14-0) continued to improve as the season went along.
"I'm really proud of what we accomplished," Burger said. "We put in a lot of work to get here and after not having a season, it felt really great to get the win today."
In their semifinal win over Butler and Hogan, they lost the second set, 6-4, after winning the first, 6-3. They rebounded to roll to a 6-1 win in the third set
"I was a little worried after the second set," Carstensen said. "I knew with the way we've been playing that we would be able to get through it."
As joyful a day as it was for Burger and Carstensen, there was heartbreak for Coffey, playing in her final state tournament. After a 6-0, 6-1 win over Fairfield's Tess Paton, Coffey and Hyacinth had a match for the ages.
"That was probably the best match I've even seen at a state tournament," Foxhoven said of the singles final. "It was just back and forth with both girls putting everything they had into it.
“I couldn't be more proud of Miyako. That is the most fight she's put up in her four years here.”
And don't look for Xavier's reign to end anytime soon. Five of Xavier's top seven players will be back next season.
“Our seniors over the past few seasons have set the tone,” Foxhoven said. "All of the kids have really bought into it and that is really all you can ask for as a coach.“
Morgan Brauer and Cady Peterson of Decorah finished sixth, beating teammates Mara Holland and Annalise Skrade in three sets then losing to Council Bluffs St. Albert's Landry Miller and Allison Narmi in three sets.
Holland and Skrade came back to take seventh place, beating Union's sister duo of Belle and Alexa Weber in two sets.