Prep Sports

Class 2A Iowa high school boys' state tennis meet looks wide open

Competition begins Friday in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Rami Hemaidan returns the ball in a singles semifinal against Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Kyler Bell at a Class 2A Boys' District meet at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednsday, May 9, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Rami Hemaidan returns the ball in a singles semifinal against Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Kyler Bell at a Class 2A Boys' District meet at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednsday, May 9, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — For the first time since 2015, there is an air of uncertainty surrounding the Class 2A boys’ state tennis tournament.

Iowa City West’s Jiung Jung, one of only four three-time state singles champions in the 90-year history of the meet, has graduated. The two-day meet, which begins Friday morning at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center, doesn’t have a clear-cut favorite to capture the title.

Official seeding will be determined by the coaches before the start of the meet, slated for 8:30 a.m. Play continues on Saturday, beginning with consolation action at 9:30 a.m. and concluding with semifinal and championship matches beginning at 1:30 p.m.

“It will be real interesting to see who gets the top four seeds,” said state meet manager Randy Krejci. “There are several good players in the tournament.”

One contender for the top seed is Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior Rami Hemaidan, who was 14-0 playing at No. 1 singles. Hemaidan finished sixth at state as a freshman and didn’t qualify last year after facing Jung and eventual state runner-up Joe Hoff of Iowa City High in districts. He has a career singles record of 74-26.

Other contenders for top seeds, according to Krejci, include Iowa City West junior Sam Shin, Linn-Mar senior Zach Glanz and Ames junior Timmy Ellis, a three-time state qualifier.

Glanz, who played most of the season at No. 4 for the Lions, has saved his best tennis for the postseason. He is 17-1 in singles matches this year.

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“Zach Glanz is peaking at the right time,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Wundram. “He sometimes gets hidden because he plays at No. 4, but he proved at districts he can rise to the challenge.”

Wundram said getting caught up in how the seeding and the draw plays out can be dangerous.

“Seeding and your draw is definitely important, but it’s not everything,” he said. “If you want to be one of the top finishers in the state, you need to be able to beat the top guys in the state. Plain and simple, if you are looking for a good draw or an easy path to have a good finish, you aren’t going into it with the right mindset.”

In the doubles draw, the No. 1 seed could go to the Cedar Rapids Washington duo of Ty Sherman and Rami Scheetz. The juniors have played together for three years, compiling a glossy 46-2 record, including 15-0 this season. They were state runners-up last season, falling to Iowa City West’s Cole Schneider and Jack Wenzel in the title match.

“They are looking forward to trying to continue their high level of success in this year’s state doubles tournament,” said Washington Coach Rusty Graff. “I am confident in their ability to compete at a very high level. I think that gives them a really good chance to achieve their goals of winning a championship.”

One intriguing duo in the draw will be Linn-Mar’s top two singles players, sophomore Luke VanDonslear and senior Ben Hediger. They did not play many matches together during the regular season but both are talented players and could be dangerous at state. They did play together in the Lions’ dual against Washington and lost to Sherman and Scheetz, 6-4, 6-4.

Krejci believes the Bettendorf duo of junior Yash Singh and sophomore Jozef Porubcin could also be in line for a seed. Iowa City West’s Brad DiLeo and Eli Young were district champions and could be considered for a seed.

West and Linn-Mar have the most qualifiers. All six of the Trojans’ top players qualified in either singles or doubles while five of Linn-Mar’s top six will be in the field. West has two freshmen (Young and Mukundan Kasturirangan) making their state debuts. Linn-Mar has a veteran group, with four seniors and a sophomore.

“We have three guys who qualified this year who are returning state placewinners (VanDonslear sixth in singles and Lucas Huffman/Hediger fifth in doubles last year),” Wundram said. “That experience is helpful, not only to them, but to the our first-time qualifiers who maybe aren’t quite sure what to expect. I think our guys have prepared themselves well and are ready to compete with the best in the state.”

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The Class 1A state meet will be held at Byrnes Park in Waterloo. Xavier senior Jon Lansing will compete in singles after winning the doubles title last year with Ben Esker.

Gazette-area boys' state tennis qualifiers

CLASS 2A SINGLES

District champions

Rami Hemaidan, Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Sam Shin, Iowa City West

Zach Glanz, Linn-Mar

District runners-up

Sasha Chackalackal, Iowa City West

Kyle Lassen, Cedar Rapids Jefferson

Alex Meyer, Western Dubuque

CLASS 2A DOUBLES

District champions

Rami Scheetz/Ty Sherman, Cedar Rapids Washington

Brad DiLeo/Eli Young, Iowa City West

Ben Hediger/Luke VanDonslear, Linn-Mar

District runners-up

Grayson Zylstra/Bennet Blumenthal, Cedar Rapids Washington

Jack Wenzel/Mukundan Kasturirangan, Iowa City West

Jack Gertsen/Lucas Huffman, Linn-Mar

CLASS 1A SINGLES

District champion

Jon Lansing, Cedar Rapids Xavier

District runner-up

Rhett Peters, Union

CLASS 2A DOUBLES

None

State team tournament

Tuesday, May 29

CLASS 2A

At Ankeny

SEMIFINALS

8:30 a.m. - No. 1 Iowa City West vs. No. 4 Waukee

8:30 a.m. - No. 2 Linn-Mar vs. No. 3 West Des Moines Valley

Championship and consolation matches to follow one hour after last semifinal match is completed.

CLASS 1A

At Des Moines

SEMIFINALS

8:30 a.m. - No. 1 Dubuque Wahlert vs. No. 4 Boone

8:30 a.m. - No. 2 Fairfield Maharishi vs. No. 3 Atlantic

Championship and consolation matches to follow one hour after last semifinal match is completed.

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