CEDAR RAPIDS — Validation was the goal. And for a moment after Cedar Rapids Washington senior Rami Scheetz defeated Pleasant Valley’s Justin Sehlin 6-2, 6-0, for the Class 2A state boys’ singles tennis championship, Scheetz sat alone on a bench alongside the court with his head buried in his hands, reflecting on that goal.
“I thought about how this was validation for me for the last four years of how hard I have worked,” he said. “A lot of emotions came out of me then.”
Once that moment ended, an entirely different emotion came out as a flood of teammates from both tennis and soccer came on the court to embrace Scheetz and celebrate his title. Scheetz is also a member of the Warriors’ soccer team that earned a state berth with a 6-2 win over Iowa City High earlier in the day.
After the soccer win in Iowa City, the Washington players hurried back to Cedar Rapids to support Scheetz, who will be back on the field with them at the state tournament.
“It means the world to me with all my soccer teammates here,” he said. “I heard we had won right before I came on, so it gave me a lot of motivation on the court.”
Saturday’s dominant win over Sehlin at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center capped a marvelous tennis career for Scheetz. He combined with Ty Sherman to win the doubles title last year after the duo finished second as sophomores. Scheetz finished 21-0 this year in singles, not dropping a single set despite playing much of the season with a thumb injury that will require surgery early next month.
Scheetz downed Linn-Mar’s Luke VanDonslear 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals (VanDonslear later took third with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Ankeny Centennial’s Will Blevins).
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“(This title) is a testament to his work ethic,” Washington Coach Rusty Graff said. “He’s a special athlete and a special player. I’ve been privileged to be around him and watch him work so well with his teammates in both sports.”
In the doubles final, the unseeded Iowa City West duo of Sasha Chackalackal and Eli Young met top-seeded and unbeaten Noah Burmeister and Eric Wetzel of Waukee, where they dropped a 6-3, 6-2 decision.
Chackalackal and Young played tremendous tennis to work their way to the final but didn’t have enough to upset the No. 1 seed.
“I mean, it hurts to lose no question,” said Chackalackal. “Obviously, our opponents really played fantastic today. I’m really happy with how we did overall.”
The West duo came in with an unbeaten record, but played No. 2 doubles much of the season.
“There aren’t many No. 2 doubles teams who could come to the state tournament and work their way into the finals,” said West Coach Mitch Gross. “They did so in compelling fashion against some really good teams. I’m just extremely proud of my guys.”
In Class 1A play at Waterloo, Xavier’s Wes Johnson and Matthew Schmit, the top seed, lost a 6-4, 6-4 decision to No. 2 seed AJ ClarkWilt and Drew Hall of Norwalk in the title match.