Gazette area boys' tennis teams and players to watch this spring.
Cedar Rapids Washington — Coach Rusty Graff’s team is ranked third in the preseason Iowa High School Boys Tennis Coaches Poll. The Warriors return the Class 2A state runner-up doubles team of juniors Ty Sherman and Rami Sheetz. They went 19-2 as a pairing. Sherman was 11-3 in singles while Sheets was 11-2. Another junior, Bennett Blumenthal, was 11-5 in singles. “We return two of the top players in the state,” Graff said. “We will be a very young team and I hope we can continue to gain much needed experience and gain maturity.”
Iowa City West — The Trojans lost one of Iowa’s all-time best with the graduation of three-time state singles champion Jiung Jung and No. 2 player Cole Schneider, but Coach Mitch Gross has plenty of talent returning from last year’s state title team. West is ranked second behind Linn-Mar heading into the season. Juniors Jack Wenzel, Sam Shin and Sasha Chackalackal, along with senior Brad DiLeo, were part of the state title team.
Linn-Mar — The Lions enter the season as the state’s top-ranked team in 2A. Coach Chris Wundram returns the top seven players from last season’s state runner-up team. Senior Ben Hediger, a Coe signee, and sophomore Luke VanDonslear give the Lions two of the better players in the state. Seniors Lucas Huffman, Zach Glanz and Jack Gertsen, along with junior Michael McGrew and sophomore Jackson Eells, also return. “While finishing second last year was a great accomplishment, it can also be a great motivation for this season,” Wundram said.
Ben Hediger, Linn-Mar, sr. — The Lions’ No. 1 player has been a three-year regular on the varsity. Combined with Lucas Huffman to finish fifth in state doubles.
Rami Hemaidan, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, sr. — Had a 14-3 record last year at No. 1 singles for the Cougars.
Jon Lansing, sr., Cedar Rapids Xavier — Combined with 2017 graduate Charlie Esker to win the Class 1A doubles championship and helped the Saints capture the Class 1A team title.
Rami Sheetz, Cedar Rapids Washington, jr. — Combined with Ty Sherman to finish second at state doubles.
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Ty Sherman, C.R. Washington, jr. — Combined with Rami Sheetz to finish second in state doubles.
Luke VanDonslear, Linn-Mar, soph. — Posted a 16-2 singles record last season and placed sixth at state in singles.
Jack Wenzel, Iowa City West, jr. — Won the state 2A state doubles championship with 2017 graduate Cole Schneider.