Corbin Broeker and Jaxon Hoyle weren’t supposed to be tennis players. A turn of fate led the duo to practice their freshman year, and three years later, they’ve punched their tickets to the state doubles tournament.
It all started when Broeker just happened to be in his dad’s classroom, the same one that hosted Coach Tyler Rodgers’ annual preseason tennis meeting.
“I think I failed a test and had to retake it,” Broeker says. “I went to my dad’s room and Rodgers was like, ‘Well, you’re here for the meeting, so I guess you’re coming out.’”
Broeker sent a Snapchat message to Hoyle that day, and the two were off to the tennis courts. Now, in their junior years, they have not only advanced to state themselves, but helped lead their team to substate
Broeker and Hoyle finished second in the doubles tournament at the team’s district meet, which helped the Panthers finish in a tie for second with 14 points. Ft. Madison took first, with 20. Notre Dame tied with Mt. Pleasant with 14, and Davis County ended up right behind the Panthers and Nikes, with 13.
After a first round bye, the duo took on a doubles team from Fairfield in the quarterfinals, defeating them 6-0 and 6-4. That set Mt. Pleasant up to play Notre Dame in the semifinals, with the winners advancing on to state. Mt. Pleasant cruised to victory, winning 6-0, 6-0.
“I’m friends with a couple of (Notre Dame) kids, so we were trash-talking the whole time,” Hoyle says. “I think that definitely got in their heads.”
“Also, Donnie Arledge gave us a quick pep talk before we went out,” says Broeker. “So I’ve got to give him a little credit there.”
Broeker and Hoyle were defeated 7-5 and 6-2 by the top seed from Ft. Madison, but earned 12 points for the team.
In singles play, Clayton Henriksen took out Keokuk’s Luke Davis 6-0, 6-0 to add two points to the Panthers’ score. Arledge fell 6-1 and 6-0 against Notre Dame’s Travis Willis.
That set Mt. Pleasant up for a preliminary substate matchup with Notre Dame on Monday at East Lake Park. The Panthers cruised to five singles wins, ending the meet before doubles even started.
Broeker took out Willis 6-3 and 6-3 in the No. 1 singles match. Hoyle defeated Dylan McEldeery 6-3 and 7-5 in the No. 2 match. Arledge defeated Cole Williams 7-5 and 6-2 in the No. 3. match. Henriksen beat Tyler Dameron 6-4 and 6-4 in the No. 4 match, and David Nguyen finished it out by beating Kaleb Allen 6-4 and 6-0 in the No. 5 match.
Jack Schimmelpfennig didn’t officially finish his singles match, as substate games end when one team reaches five points, but he unnoficially won the No. 6 singles match 6-2 and 6-0.
Broeker and Hoyle still have 10 days until their state doubles tournament kicks off in Cedar Rapids on Friday, May 24. Before that, the Panther team will play for a shot at the state team tournament on Saturday, May 18, in Pella. Mt. Pleasant will play the hosting Dutch in the first round, with the winner playing either Ft. Madison, Chariton or Grinnell.