116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A small change in approach paid big dividends on Saturday for Cedar Rapids Xavier's Matthew Schmit and Brady Horstmann.
After dropping the first set of their Class 1A state doubles title match to Pella's Vaughn Thompson and Jack Edwards, the top-seeded Saints pairing made a little adjustment.
"They were really good net players," said Xavier Coach Jim Potts about the Pella team. "We had to take them out of that game so we put in some more defensive lobs and got them back on the baseline.
"Once that happened, we started attacking the net. We're pretty good at the net and we took advantage of that."
The result was a complete turnaround. Schmit and Horstmann (17-1 in doubles matches this season) dominated the final two sets, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 to take the state title at Byrnes Park in Waterloo, handing Thompson and Edwards, the No. 2 seed, their first match loss this season in 30 outings.
For Schmit, the win completed a journey he started in 2019 when he just missed out on a state doubles title, then teamed with Wes Johnson, losing a decision to a team from Norwalk.
"After being so close two years ago, then not being able to play last season (due to COVID-19), this was a great feeling," he said. "Getting to work with Brady all year was great and to pull this out today was amazing."
Dropping the first set was a concern, but Horstmann said there was no panic.
"You know, Matt said there is a set for a reason so we said let's get there," Horstmann said. "We were a little down on ourselves but we never thought that this match was over.
"We always have a chance. We came out with two and three game streaks in each set and that really propelled the momentum our way."
Potts said another key was an improved service return in the final two sets.
"That made a big difference," he said, "and the end result was a pretty good one.
Schmit and Horstmann advanced to the final with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Decorah's No. 4-seeded team of Caden Branum and Gabe Anderson in the semifinals. Branum and Anderson came back to take third, winning a third-set super-tiebreaker over No. 3 seed Charlie Fair and Jack Freiburger of Dubuque Wahlert, 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7).
Xavier's second doubles team of Declan Coe and Hugh Courter battled back after a first-round loss on Friday to win four straight matches to finish in fifth place. The Saints' Trenton Link lost both of his consolation matches on Saturday and finished in eighth place.