Keokuk High School’s Abbot Haner is The Hawk Eye’s Boys Tennis Player of the Year

Keokuk High School's Abbot Haner is The Hawk Eye's Boys Tennis Player of the Year

Abbot Haner admits he didn’t know much about tennis prior to his seventh-grade year.

That season, he started watching his older brother, Gavin Haner, play tennis for Keokuk High School. Abbot would tag long to practice with his brother, hitting balls with the older boys in practice.

Six years later, Abbot Haner found himself as the No. 1 player for Keokuk. And after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Haner finished his career the only way he should — at the Class 1A state tournament.

Haner finished sixth in singles, fashioning a18-3 record along the way. Two of his three losses came at the state tournament. The other came against a good friend, Burlington High School senior Brendon Hale, at the Grayhound Invitational midway through the season.

With his brother, who was Keokuk’s assistant coach this season, and their grandfather, Jerry Jerome, in his corner, Abbot Haner had a season to remember.

“The season went very well for me and my team,” said Haner, The Hawk Eye’s Boys Tennis Player of the Year. “We lived up to all the expectations. Our only loss was to Fort Madison and that was a very winnable match. Other than that, we had a very good season.

For Abbot Haner, it all started innocently enough. He went from practice partner to state placewinner in the course of six years and five seasons.

“My seventh-grade year my brother was on the high school team. I started going to practice and hitting with them. It was really fun. I started taking lessons from Coach Dan Logan and I just fell in love with it,” Abbot Haner said. “My eighth-grade year I helped with practice every day with the varsity team. The next year I started playing in some matches.

Abbot Haner’s biggest thrill came his freshman year when he teamed with his brother, then a senior, in doubles.

“I learned a lot from my brother. He and Dan Logan taught me everything I know about tennis,” Abbot Haner said. “My brother’s tennis IQ is very high. He showed me how to play to my opponents’ weaknesses and where to place the ball.”

Haner teamed with junior Ivan Lopez to form a formidable doubles team this season. But when districts rolled around, Logan had Haner focus on singles and paired Lopez with senior Kaiden Stoneking for doubles.

The moved paid off as Haner won districts with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Trenton Link of Cedar Rapids in the finals to qualify for state.

There, Haner went 3-2 to finish sixth, with Jerome, the Southeastern Community College women’s basketball coach, on hand to cheer on his grandson.

“He’s one of my biggest mentors,” Haner said of Jerome. “He’s a really good role model for my brother and I.

Haner plans to play tennis for two years at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois, starting in the fall.

Like his brother before him, Abbot Haner has aspirations of coaching tennis after he graduates from college.

“I plan to major in secondary education and be a PE teacher,” Haner said. “I’m going to get my coaching certification and be a tennis coach like my brother. I just love the game.”

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