116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - After a tough 7-2 loss to Cedar Rapids Washington on May 2, Iowa City High boys' tennis coach Chip Hardesty decided the time had come.
Up to that point, sophomore Joe Hoff had teamed sporadically with junior Greg Hensley as a doubles tandem. After the Washington dual, Hardesty was ready to let the twosome ride out the rest of the season together.
'They seem to mesh well sort of personally,” Hardesty said. 'They don't have to be best friends, but it helps if they talk a lot on the court in doubles. …They're willing to really talk about things, and Greg is a good listener, too. So it's a good partnership.”
Hoff and Hensley rewarded Hardesty's vision by running through the May 14 district meet and earning a spot in the Class 2A doubles state tournament, which begins Friday at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center. Byrnes Park in Waterloo will host the 1A tournament.
'We're just looking to do really good at state and I think the energy's here and the communication's here,” Hensley said.
As district champions, the City High duo will be candidates for a top-4 seed during the morning seeding meeting. Two other area doubles teams – Tim Paulson and Trevor McCann of Linn-Mar, plus Cedar Rapids Washington's Jackson Hoyt and Oliver Hammond – could also receive a seed. No matter where they are slotted, Hoff and Hensley prefer to enter every match as an underdog.
'We're definitely not as skilled when we think that we can win,” Hoff said. 'We should go in there thinking every match is going to be a challenge, and then you play harder and communicate more.”
Hoff's game has undergone a considerable transformation since his freshman year. A sharp growth spurt of 3-5 inches has him standing 6-foot-3, which has altered his quickness but enhanced other areas in conjunction with improved footwork and court smarts.
'The taller you are, the more of a wall you are up there,” Hardesty said. 'He's just much more effective at the net. It's harder to lob over him and so forth. Every aspect of his game has improved pretty dramatically from last year.”
The 2A singles field is highlighted by Iowa City West sophomore Jiung Jung, who placed fourth at last year's state meet. Last year's singles champion – Waukee freshman Alex Brown – now lives out of state, leaving behind an opportunity for Jung and another area district singles champion – Kennedy freshman Rami Hemaidan.
The area 1A state participants are led by a pair of doubles teams – Ben Curley and Jon Lansing of Cedar Rapids Xavier and Decorah's Brett LaRue and Gable Lonning. LaRue and Lonning are two of five 1A state qualifiers for Decorah.
AREA STATE TOURNAMENT PARTICIPANTS
Friday and Saturday
(Class 1A - Byrnes Park in Waterloo; Class 2A - Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids)
1A SINGLES -
Ryan Hageman, sr., Decorah
1A DOUBLES -
*-Brett LaRue, sr. and Gable Lonning, sr., Decorah; *-Ben Curley, sr. and Jon Lansing, fr., C.R. Xavier; Karl Sand, sr. and Caleb Ulring, sr., Decorah
2A SINGLES -
*-Rami Hemaidan, fr., C.R. Kennedy; *-Jiung Jung, so., I.C. West; Parker Muller, so., C.R. Washington; David DiLeo, sr., I.C. West
2A DOUBLES -
*-Jackson Hoyt, jr. and Oliver Hammond, sr., C.R. Washington; *-Joe Hoff, so. and Greg Hensley, jr., I.C. High; Tim Paulson, sr. and Trevor McCann, sr., Linn-Mar; Cole Schneider, so. and Ryan Smith, jr., I.C. West; Ben Myers, sr. and Shane Skvor, so., Linn-Mar.
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