CEDAR RAPIDS — Rami Scheetz’s dream of a state tennis championship almost ended on a soccer field in Waukee last month.
The Cedar Rapids Washington senior is a dual-sport performer for the Warriors in the spring, playing soccer and tennis. While he is an important piece of the soccer team, with four goals and two assists this year, Scheetz also is one of the top prep tennis players in Iowa.
A hand injury suffered in soccer match at Waukee on April 19 threatened to put a premature end to Scheetz’s prep tennis career.
“We were playing at Waukee and I fell on my hand,” Scheetz said. “We initially thought I fractured it, but I got a second opinion and it ended up being torn ligaments in my thumb. I am going to have surgery on it right after the season.”
Washington Coach Rusty Graff isn’t surprised Scheetz was able to carry on with the injury, posting a 20-0 singles mark entering the state meet.
“Rami has always been an extremely tough competitor both mentally and physically ...,” Graff said. “After all, he won the state doubles tournament last season (teaming with Ty Sherman) with a severely sprained ankle.”
The torn ligaments have left Scheetz wearing a splint on his right hand. He has adjusted well to using the brace and is considered one of the favorites to win the singles title this weekend at the Class 2A state tournament, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday in Cedar Rapids. Action begins at 10 a.m. both days.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
With rain in the forecast, Friday’s singles will be held at Westfield Tennis Club, the doubles at Coe College. Saturday’s action is scheduled to be at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center.
The Class 1A state meet will be held in Waterloo, at Black Hawk Tennis Club on Friday, Byrnes Park on Saturday.
Sheetz said the injury was “really frustrating” as he adjusted to wearing the splint.
“It is on my dominant hand so I had to switch up my grip a little bit,” he said. “I really had to work on my mental game more than my physical game. I knew I couldn’t play the same way I had been playing so I knew I had to rely even more on my mental game.”
Scheetz will no doubt be one of the top seeds when the draw is made before play begins on Friday. He believes he matches up with the other top contenders.
“Sam (Shin) from Iowa City West, Luke (VanDonslear) from Linn-Mar and Justin (Sehlin) from Pleasant Valley, they are all good players,” Scheetz said. “I think my game and my overall training is a step higher so I am looking for the state championship.”
Graff believes his senior standout will be the top seed.
“I think that Rami being undefeated in singles and not even dropping a set this year makes him a good candidate to be the top seed,” Graf said.
Last year, Scheetz combined with Sherman to win the 2A doubles title over Linn-Mar’s VanDonslear and Ben Hediger, but he made the choice to go after a singles title this year.
“It was a difficult decision but Ty and I lost the state championship our sophomore year, I told him then we were going to win it the next year,” he said. “After that, we agreed that this year I would be going singles and he was going doubles so we knew it would be a challenge for both of us.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!
You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.
Scheetz will play collegiate tennis on the NCAA Division I level next year at Connecticut. Regardless of his finish this weekend, Scheetz has left his mark on the Warrior program.
“I’ve been fortunate throughout my coaching career both at the high school and college level to work with many great student-athletes,” Graff said. “Rami ranks right at the top of the list as far as being a great player and an even better student-athlete and person.”