116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ANKENY — There were significantly more tears this time.
With its fifth Class 2A boys' tennis state championship in six years, one might presume the Iowa City West celebrations could increasingly become mundane.
Not this year. Not this day. Not this team.
'I lost my dad in February right before the season started,' an emotional West Coach Mitch Gross said after his Trojans capped a second-consecutive 19-0 season with another team tennis state championship, 5-1, over Linn-Mar Tuesday at Prairie Ridge Sports Complex. 'I haven't talked about that very often. It's been a long winter for my family and this, I just love this team. We talked all along about being a family.'
The tears were a welcome release as Gross embraced his family and his team, the exhilarating joy of accomplishment melding with thoughts of Terry Gross' February passing following an extended illness.
The eyes of senior Cole Schneider also welled in victory, as it was he who clinched the victory at No. 1 singles in three sets, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4, over Linn-Mar's Ben Hediger. Schneider, a No. 1 player on just about any other team in the state, was called to the top of the lineup when three-time singles state champion Jiung Jung defaulted due to injury (knee tendinitis) in the 5-1 morning semifinal victory over West Des Moines Valley.
'I knew I had to step up big with Jiung being out,' Schneider said. 'That match was for him. Just the best guy ever. I will miss playing with him.'
With Jung ruled out, junior Brad DiLeo and sophomores Sasha Chackalackal and Sam Shin each moved up a spot in the lineup and collected singles wins to give the Trojans a 3-0 advantage in the final.
Freshman Eddie Dowling, who figured his day would be spent cheering on teammates, was inserted into the order at No. 6 and rebounded from a dropped first set and brought his team to the brink of the state championship, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 over Linn-Mar freshman Jackson Eells.
'I just used my aggressiveness,' Dowling said. 'That kind of overcame the nervousness. Being in that aggressive mindset just got in the way.'
Schneider and Jung will depart for college in the fall at Luther and Swarthmore (Pa.), respectively, having been a part of three of West's eight team tennis state championships. The Trojans — winners of seven titles in the last 13 years — trail only 1A schools Camanche and Dubuque Wahlert (nine each) in the state record books.
The latest team title, which comes on the heels of Jung's singles title and the doubles crown from Schneider and playing partner Jack Wenzel at Saturday's individual state meet, makes West just the fifth school in state history (Cedar Rapids Washington, Des Moines Roosevelt, Dubuque Wahlert, Fairfield Maharishi), to earn the 'triple crown' of three state championships in one season.
'It's a humongous honor,' Gross said. 'This is the one we wanted. We're always a team-first team and our team came together like no other.'
Linn-Mar (16-3) – which eliminated Pleasant Valley, 5-1, in the morning semifinal – received its only win from freshman Luke VanDonslear, who defeated Jack Wenzel at No. 2 singles, 7-6, 6-1. The Lions return their top-seven players next season.
'We fought hard,' Linn-Mar Coach Chris Wundram said. 'I felt good going into it. I even felt good during the match. Just a couple of points, and all of a sudden we were in a hole.'
In the 1A team tennis state championships, Cedar Rapids Xavier (14-4) won the first boys' tennis state championship in school history, 5-0, over previously-undefeated LeMars at Waveland Tennis Courts in Des Moines.
'It's a great, great moment right now for us,' Xavier Coach Jim Potts said. 'The guys are really excited and they know they get their banner up in the gym.'
The Saints defeated Pella, 5-2, in the morning semifinal and ended the season with 10 victories in a row. The doubles team of Jon Lansing and Charlie Esker won the 1A doubles crown at the individual state meet Saturday.
BOYS' TEAM TENNIS STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Linn-Mar 5, Pleasant Valley 1
Sriram Sugumaran (PV) def. Ben Hediger, 6-1, 6-0; Luke VanDonslear (LM) def. Nathan Wong, 6-0, 6-2; Lucas Huffman (LM) def. Vincent Gnad, 6-2, 6-3; Zach Glanz (LM) def. Aditya Subramaniam, 7-6, 6-1; Jack Gertsen (LM) def. Kiran Marla, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3; Jackson Eells (LM) def. Cameron Trentz, 6-4, 6-4.
Iowa City West 5, West Des Moines Valley 1
Brook Norwood (WDMV) def. Jiung Jung, by injury default; Cole Schneider (ICW) def. Moise Habienza, 6-2, 6-2; Jack Wenzel (ICW) def. Neil Sura, 6-2, 6-4; Sam Shin (ICW) def. Roy Jensen, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4; Brad DiLeo (ICW) def. Varun Myneni, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5; Sasha Chackalackal (ICW) def. Matt Galles, 6-3, 7-5.
Iowa City West 5, Linn-Mar 1
Schneider (ICW) def. Hediger, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4; VanDonslear (LM) df. Wenzel, 7-6, 6-1; Shin (ICW) def. Huffman, 7-6, 6-3; DiLeo (ICW) def. Glanz, 6-2, 6-3; Chackalackal (ICW) def. Gertsen, 6-1, 6-2; Eddie Dowling (ICW) def. Eells, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
At Des Moines
Cedar Rapids Xavier 5, Pella 2
Jon Lansing (CRX) def. Jordan Roozeboom, 6-1, 6-1; Alex Hinrichs (CRX) def. Ani Tangellapalli, 6-1, 6-2; Charlie Esker (CRX) def. Michael Reed, 7-6, 6-2; Blake Magill (CRX) def. Reid Leidigh, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3; Benjamin Lauritsen (P) def. Calvin Ford, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; Colton Edwards (P) def. Ryan Jasper, 6-1, 6-2.
Lansing/Ecker (CRX) def. J. Roozeboom/Tangellapalli, 6-0, 6-2.
Cedar Rapids Xavier 5, LeMars 0
Lansing (CRX) def. Jake Malik, 6-3, 6-3; Hinrichs (CRX) def. Kyle Marek, 6-2, 6-3; Esker (CRX) def. Jake Thompson, 6-3, 6-2; Ford (CRX) def. Jeff Ahlers, 6-2, 6-3; Jasper (CRX) def. Seth Oetken, 6-4, 6-4.
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