WATERLOO — Clear Lake senior Sam Jones took nothing for granted as he completed a dominant two-day stroll through Byrnes Park Saturday in the Class 1A state tennis tournament.
Locally, the boys from Waverly-Shell Rock spent the weekend getting accustomed to their new surroundings. They completed their first trip to the state tournament by placing among the top eight. W-SR junior Adam Ernsting finished eighth in singles, while Go-Hawk sophomores Luke and Ryan Willis placed seventh in doubles.
One year removed from denying Fairfield Maharishi’s Sam Stickels a second title, Jones defeated North Polk’s Nathan Greiner, 6-0, 6-3 to become 1A’s first repeat state singles champion since Dubuque Wahlert’s T.J. Leicht won the 2004 and 2005 titles.
“I kind of learned a little bit from him (Stickels) just to know that it’s not going to be a walk that second year,” Jones said. “I think he kind of assumed, ‘I won it once, I’ll roll again.’ But I learned that I could work harder. ... It’s always been fun. It’s something I love to do.”
Jones and Greiner lost a cumulative total of just three games apiece in their three matches prior to the final.
In Class 1A’s state doubles final, Davenport Assumption senior Thomas Resnick teamed with junior Luke Fennelly to defeat Dubuque Wahlert’s Jackson Takes and Jack Lucy, 6-2, 6-1 in a rematch of their district final.
Waverly-Shell Rock’s Willis cousins drew the Assumption team in the opening round of their state debut, pushing the Knights to 6-4 in the opening set before recovering from that match loss with a pair of straight set Friday wins.
During Saturday morning’s consolation semifinal against LeMars’ Thomas Harvey and Kyle Marek, Luke and Ryan Willis rallied from a set down to force a 10-point match tiebreaker. The Go-Hawk sophomores led 9-7 in the tiebreak, before LeMars won the final four points to secure the victory, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9.
The Willis cousins regrouped in the seventh-place match with a convincing 6-2, 6-1 win over Ballard’s Mark Mosher and Brody Echer.
“It’s a lot more competitive than I thought it was going to be,” Luke Willis said of his state debut. “Our first match today was tough. They were pretty consistent, hard to beat. Then this (seventh place) match they were also pretty good. We were just more consistent compared to our first match.”
With several family members on hand, including their grandparents who made the trip from Muscatine, the Willis cousins hope this weekend is just the first of multiple state tournament runs.
“The first day we had a really tough draw,” Ryan Willis said. “I think we learned a lot from that, just how good we have to be to do what we want to do.
“It’s pretty good to get that experience now as sophomores. We’ve got a few more years to build on that. We proved we can compete if we’re on our game.”
Waverly-Shell Rock’s Ernsting will also be back next season for a Go-Hawk tennis program on the rise. The junior suffered a loss to Dylan Harris of LeMars in the consolation semifinals 6-0, 6-1 before losing to Camanche’s Dev Patel in the seventh place match, 6-2, 6-4.
FRIDAY RESULTS — Harvey and Marek eliminated Columbus’ doubles team of Carson Ellingson and Francis Hart in the consolation second round, 6-3, 6-3. Ellingson and Hart, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeated Fort Madison’s Drake Hogan and Jarrett Sykes in the first round, 6-0, 6-4 before suffering a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Clear Lake’s Ben Mason and Jacob Peterson.
Oelwein state qualifier Jack Bishop dropped his closely-contested first-round match to Davenport Assumption’s Jack Thomas, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5). Bishop was then defeated by Spencer’s Alex Kaldahl in the first round of the consolation draw, 6-3, 6-4.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Falls senior Vineel Mallavarapu finished eighth in Class 2A singles action in Cedar Rapids.
Mallavarapu, a seventh-place state singles finisher a year ago, earned the No. 4 seed, but was upset Friday by West Des Moines Valley’s Yasha Litvak in the first round, 6-3, 6-1.
Mallavarapu rebounded with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Dowling’s Jarrett Benson in the first round of the consolation draw. Mallavarapu then defeated Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Rami Hemaiden, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the consolation semifinals.
Saturday, Mallavarapu dropped a 6-3, 6-3 match to Indianola’s Jackson Guilford in the consolation semifinals, then fell to Cedar Rapids Washington’s Rami Scheetz in a tiebreaker for seventh place, 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.
State tennis results
SEMIFINALS — Sam Jones (Clear Lake) def. Chandre Morales (Fairfield Maharishi), 6-2, 6-0, Nathan Greiner (North Polk) def. A.J. Jackson (Knoxville), 6-0, 6-0.
CHAMPIONSHIP — Jones def. Greiner, 6-0, 6-3.
THIRD — Morales def. Jackson, 6-2, 6-4.
FIFTH — Travis Miller (Council Bluffs St. Albert) def. Dylan Harms (LeMars), 6-1, 6-2.
SEVENTH — Dev Patel (Camanche) def. Adam Ernsting (Waverly-S.R.), 6-2, 6-4.
SEMIFINALS — Thomas Resnick/Luke Fennelly (Assumption) def. Kai Vessey/Daniel Zhu (Fairfield Maharishi), 6-2, 7-5, Jackson Takes/Jack Lucy (Wahlert) def. Ben Mason/Jacob Peterson (Clear Lake), 6-2, 6-0.
CHAMPIONSHIP — Resnick/Fennelly def. Takes/Lucy, 6-2, 6-1.
THIRD — Vessey/Zhu def. Mason/Peterson, 6-0, 6-2.
FIFTH — Danny Anderson/Ethan Patterson (Boone) def. Thomas Havey/Kyle Marek (LeMars), 6-4, 6-3.
SEVENTH — Luke Willis/Ryan Willis (Waverly-S.R.) def. Mark Mosher/Brody Echer (Ballard), 6-2, 6-1.
SEMIFINALS — Jiung Jung (I.C. West) def. Yasha Litvak (W.D.M. Valley) 7-6, 6-2, Joe Hoff (I.C. High) def. Jonny Bowser (Fort Dodge) 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.
CHAMPIONSHIP — Jiung Jung (I.C. West) def. Joe Hoff (I.C. High) 6-4, 6-0.
THIRD — Yasha Litvak (W.D.M. Valley) def. Jonny Bowser (Fort Dodge) 6-1, 7-5.
FIFTH — Jackson Guilford (Indianola) def. Zach Ray (Ottumwa) 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).
SEVENTH — Rami Scheetz (CRW) def. Vineel Mallavarapu (Ced. Falls) 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.
SEMIFINALS — Humes/Sugumaran (Pleasant Valley) def. Luebke/Singh (Bettendorf) 7-6, 7-5 (7-3), Schneider/Wenzel (I.C. West) def. Zuccaro/Mozena (Dub. Senior) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
CHAMPIONSHIP — Humes/Sugumaran (Pleasant Valley) def. Schneider/Wenzel (I.C. West) 6-4, 6-0.
THIRD — Zuccaro/Mozena (Dub. Senior) def. Luebke/Singh (Bettendorf) 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).
FIFTH — Drey/Lu (W.D.M. Dowling) def. Huffman/Hediger (Linn-Mar) 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (11-9).
SEVENTH — VandenBerg/Matthews (Mason City) def. VandenBerg/Hansen (Mason City) 6-2, 6-2.