CEDAR RAPIDS — Luke VanDonslear was down a set and 4-1 in the second.
“I just knew I had to fight,” the Linn-Mar junior said. “I have worked too hard to just give up.”
Facing elimination in the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A boys’ state tennis tournament against West Des Moines Dowling freshman Daniel Lu on Friday at the Westfield Tennis Club, VanDonslear, the No. 4 seed, was able to force a second-set tiebreaker. He won that 7-4 before going on to take the decisive set, 6-2, earning a spot in Saturday’s semifinals against Cedar Rapids Washington’s Rami Scheetz, the top seed.
After downing Iowa City West’s Jack Wenzel in the first round, 6-3, 6-4, VanDonslear was frustrated early and often in his match with Lu.
“There wasn’t a lot going right for me early,” admitted VanDonslear. “Once I was able to get it to the tiebreaker, I got out to a 3-0 lead and he did come back a little bit, but I told myself this was mine.”
In set three, VanDonslear was leading 5-3 when he started to cramp.
“I knew I had to get that finished pretty fast,” he said. “Fortunately, on match point I got a pretty good ball to put away.”
Three of the top four singles seeds were Gazette area players. Scheetz remained unbeaten with a pair of convincing straight set wins over Chris Yao of Johnston (6-2, 6-2) and Pleasant Valley’s Brady Adams (7-5, 6-1). Iowa City West’s Sam Shin was the No. 3 seed. After splitting sets in his quarterfinal match with Ankeny Centennial’s Will Blevins, he developed cramps in the back of both legs and ended up falling, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
“It was a good day for Rami,” said Washington Coach Rusty Graff. “He’s been playing pretty well given his circumstances.”
Scheetz was pleased with his day and is excited about his prospects for Saturday.
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“I started out a little slow today,” he said. “Once I got going, I felt pretty good out there. I expect it to be much tougher tomorrow.”
Shin was in a dogfight with Blevins when he went down in pain after the first game of the final set.
“It just hit me right at the end of the first game,” Shin said. “It hit me in both (quad muscles) and I just went down.”
The disappointment showed in Shin’s face as he spoke after the match.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing,” he said. “All I know is that I tried my best and what happened (with his quads) just happened. There was nothing I could do about it.”
Shin and teammate Wenzel will meet in Saturday’s consolation semifinals. After losing to VanDonslear, Wenzel won two matches to stay alive in the tournament.
Doubles matches were held at Coe College. The unseeded Iowa City West duo of Sasha Chackalackal and Eli Young moved into the semifinals. They opened with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Ben Kreamer and Quincy Pullen of Johnston, then followed it up with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Cedar Rapids Washington’s Ty Sherman and Grayson Zylstra in the quarterfinals. Sherman and Zylstra advanced by upsetting the No. 2-seeded team of Yash Singh and Jozef Porubcin of Bettendorf in three sets.
Chackalackal and Young will meet another unseeded team, Jake Dolphin and Nathan Wong of Pleasant Valley in the semifinals.
The other West doubles team in the field, Luca Chackalackal and Mukundan Kasturirangen lost 6-2, 6-0 to Ellis and Nate Withers of Ames in the opening round. They came back to down Nick Songer and Kyle Elmore of West Des Moines Valley, 6-2, 6-1 in the consolation round before advancing to play on Saturday with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Washington’s Sherman and Zylstra. They will play the Linn-Mar doubles team of Jackson Eells and Kartik Tharwani. The Lion duo lost its opener before winning two matches in the consolation round.
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Play is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Tennis Center. If the matches are again forced indoors, both singles and doubles will be at Coe.
In Class 1A play at Waterloo, Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Wes Johnson and Matthew Schmit, the top seed, advanced to the semifinals with a pair of wins. The Saints’ other doubles entry of Hugh Courter and Brady Horstmann won two matches and lost one. They will play in the consolation semifinals.