Shenandoah junior Andrew Lawrence’s third trip to the Class 1A State Singles Tennis Tournament ended up being his best as he won two matches to finish eighth Tuesday, May 23, through Wednesday, May 24, at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.
Lawrence came into the 16-athlete field with the toughest draw, taking on Decorah’s Caden Branum, the top seed, in the first round and Branum earned a 6-1, 6-2 win, the first of his four wins in earning the state championship.
Lawrence battled back from there and won his next two matches to advance to the second day of competition and guarantee himself a medal. Both matches were tough, though, as he beat Ben Van Gorp of Pella 7-5, 6-1 in the first round consolation match and then earned two tiebreak victories in a 7-6, 7-6 win over Josh Steffen of Storm Lake. Once Lawrence got to the tiebreak, he had little trouble in both sets, winning the first set tiebreak 7-1 and the second 7-2.
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“I had to keep an open mindset and just be positive,” Lawrence said on his stay at state tennis, “and have the confidence to keep me through each point and through the day.”
Lawrence’s two wins advanced him to Wednesday as he became the first Shenandoah boys tennis player to make it to the second day of state singles since Matt Johnson in 2003.
He entered the second day as one of four athletes competing in two matches each to determine placing between fifth and eighth. Lawrence battled against Boone’s Cody Overland in the consolation semifinals. Lawrence had the lead in both sets, but Overland rallied in both for a 6-4, 7-5 win. Lawrence then lost to a familiar foe in Lewis Central’s Christian Jensen 6-1, 6-1 in the seventh-place match.
“I feel like I played decent tennis,” Lawrence said, “but it’s an honor to be at this level and just make it to the next day.”
The medal was Lawrence’s goal going in as he hadn’t won one yet in two previous state tournament appearances.
“It means a lot to earn a medal,” Lawrence said, “because I worked hard every day in the offseason to achieve this goal.”
Lawrence now has three state tournament appearance and an eighth-place medal with one year left at Shenandoah.
“This helps me build for next year seeing most of these players come back and just want to achieve the same result of medaling and doing even better,” Lawrence said.
There were just five seniors in the singles field. Between singles and doubles, Lawrence was one of seven entries from the Hawkeye 10 Conference.