CEDAR RAPIDS —
Ottumwa’s C.J. Ray was certain he’d see longtime Des Moines Roosevelt rival Naveen Nath again at state.
It appeared Ray was well on his way to making that matchup happen on Friday at the Class 2A state singles tournament.
After beating Cedar Falls’ Roy Ju, 6-2, 6-1, Ray stood on the brink of an impressive quarterfinal win over fourth-seeded Ames junior Alex Huang at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids. Ray built a 7-5, 4-0 lead and was right on the verge of keeping his final quest for a state championship alive.
Then, cramps set in on the Bulldog senior. And suddenly, a great day was about to take a very bad turn.
“All I could do was tell him to relax and take it one shot at a time,” Ottumwa head coach Alan Paris said of Ray’s quarterfinal match. “When your body starts turning on you, you have to relax and hope that works.
Ray tried to fight through the cramping, but couldn’t stop Haung from winning the next six games to even the match at a set apiece. Haung then outlasted Ray in a tough 6-4 third set, taking the semifinal berth Ray was two games from winning himself.
“You started getting excited. We were right there near the finish line, but when your body doesn’t want to work with your mind, it’s not going to work itself out,” Paris said.
With the rematch and state championship hopes gone, Ray physically and mentally had little left for a third match. West Des Moines Valley sophomore Andres Jensen took advantage, ending Ray’s prep career with a 6-2, 6-4 win in the second round of consolation play.
“His heart was not even close to being in it in that third match,” Paris said. “After being so close to being in the semifinals and not making it, he just wanted to get it over with.”
Ray’s stellar Ottumwa career comes to an end with trips to the state singles tournament in each of his four seasons. Ray finishes with a 6-8 record in state competition that includes a seventh-place finish as a freshman and career-best fourth-place finish as a sophomore, culminating with a three-set loss that year to Nath in the consolation finals.
“It’s been a great four years. I knew every match he was going to give it his all,” Paris said of Ray. “It was good enough to get to state. It was bittersweet to see it come to an end without winning a championship, but he grew as a player and as an individual in his four years.
“He’s a champion in my book. He never gave up.”
Several area athletes were chasing Class 1A state tennis titles on Friday in Waterloo. By the end of the day, however, only the green and gold of Fairfield Maharishi remained in the hunt for a title with all three qualifiers extending their stay into this weekend.
Freshman Sam Stickles and senior Thomas Weiss made the most of the top seed they earned prior to the start of play on Friday, sweeping their way into the 1A doubles semifinals. After beating Kolby Jones and David Breiner of Sioux City Bishop Heelan 6-3, 6-4, Stickles and Weiss lost just three games in a quarterfinal round 6-2, 6-1 win over Decorah’s Kai Brown and Lucas Hunter. The MSAE top-seeded duo faces Davenport Assumption’s Kyle Gacke and Eric Lammers in the semifinal round this morning.
The Pioneers’ top singles star, Sam Arsanjani, rallied from an opening-round 6-1, 6-4 loss to second-seeded Aaron Chalstrom of Fort Dodge St. Edmond to clinch a place among the top eight in the state. Arsanjani beat Boone’s Nate Kriegel 7-6, 6-2 before waiting for the winner of a state quarterfinal match between Fairfield’s Alexander Punj and fourth-seeded Red Oak star Pete Walker.
Punj, a Trojan freshman, beat LeMars Kolin Brooks 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round and took a 6-3 first-set win against Walker. The Red Oak senior bounced back with a 6-0 second-set sweep before advancing to the state semifinals with a 6-4 win in the decisive third set.
Punj could not rally back against Arsanjani, who got revenge against the Fairfield netter for a district final defeat with a 6-4, 6-3 win that ended Punj’s season. Arsanjani will face Spencer’s Michael Gabhart in the consolation semifinals today at 9:30 a.m.
In other 1A singles action, Albia junior Erik Smith lost twice on Friday to end his season. After being swept by the fourth-seeded Walker 6-0, 6-0, Smith fell in the consolation round to LeMars’ Brooks 6-3, 6-2.
Chariton seniors Dustin Decker and Josh Hoyle also lost twice in the 1A doubles tournament. The Charger duo fell 6-0, 6-0 to second-seeded Dubuque Walhert tandem Brandon Schneider and Tom Runde before losing 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to Ben Albright and John Eide of Fort Dodge St. Edmond.
Class 2A State Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournament
At Veterans Memorial Tennis Center, Cedar Rapids
FIRST ROUND — No. 1 Naveen Nath (Des Moines Roosevelt) def. Nick Johnson (Dubuque Hempstead) 6-0, 7-6 (7-2); Ryan Peterson (West Des Moines Valley) def. Chris Habermann (Sioux City North) 6-1, 6-4; C.J. Ray (Ottumwa) def. Roy Ju (Cedar Falls) 6-2, 6-1; No. 4 Alex Huang (Ames) def. A.J. Smith (Pleasant Valley) 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 Blake Oetting (Iowa City West) def. Andrew Ellis (Ames) 6-3, 6-3; Will Hemminger (DMR) def. Alex Crowl (Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln) 6-2, 7-5; Bobbie Slavens (Bettendorf) def. Seed Sarkic (Waterloo West) 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Riley Galbraith (Cedar Rapids Kennedy) def. Andres Jensen (WDMV) 6-1, 6-2.
QUARTERFINALS — No. 1 Nath (DMR) def. Peterson (WDMV) 6-3, 6-2; No. 4 Huang (A) def. Ray (O) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; Hemminger (DMR) def. No. 3 Oetting (ICW) 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 Galbraith (CRK) def. Slavens (B) 6-2, 6-0.
FIRST ROUND CONSOLATION — Johnson (DH) def. Habermann (SCN) 6-0, 6-0; Ju (CF) def. Smith (PV) 6-3, 6-2; Ellis (A) def. Crowl (CBAL) 6-4, 6-3; Jensen (WDMV) def. Sarkic (WW), withdrawl.
SECOND ROUND CONSOLATION – Peterson (WDMV) def. Ellis (A); Jensen (WDMV) def. Ray (O) 6-2, 6-4; No. 3 Oetting (ICW) def. Johnson (DH) 6-2, 6-1; Ju (CF) def. Slaves (B) 6-2, 6-1.
Class 1A State Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournament
At Byrnes Tennis Center, Waterloo
FIRST ROUND — No. 1 John Ellis (Boone) def. Andy Mong (Northern University High) 6-3, 6-1; Noah Schmall (Cedar Rapids Xavier) def. Zach Gailey (Fort Dodge St. Edmond) 6-1, 6-2; Alexander Punj (Fairfield) def. Kolin Brooks (LeMars) 6-4, 6-1; No. 4 Pete Walker (Red Oak) def. Erik Smith (Albia) 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Alex Bernt (Waterloo Columbus) def. Nate Ohms (Harlan) 6-1, 6-0; Jimmy Huiskamp (Davenport Assumption) def. Michael Gabhart (Spencer) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Will Hamilton (Grinnell) def. Nate Kriegel (B) 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Aaron Chalstrom (FDSE) def. Sam Arsanjani (Fairfield Maharishi) 6-1, 6-4.
QUARTERFINALS — No. 1 Ellis (B) def. Schmall (CRX) 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Walker (RO) def. Punj (FF) 3-6, 6-0, 6-4; No. 3 Bernt (WC) def. Huiskamp (DA) 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 Chalstrom (FDSE) def. Hamilton (G) 6-1, 6-4.
FIRST ROUND CONSOLATION — Mong (NUH) def. Gailey (FDSE) 6-1, 6-0; Brooks (LM) def. Smith (Alb.) 6-3, 6-2; Gabhart (S) def. Ohms (H) 6-1, 7-6 (7-3); Arsanjani (MSAE) def. Kriegel (B) 7-6, 6-2.
SECOND ROUND CONSOLATION – Gabhart (S) def. Schmall (CRX), withdrawl; Arsanjani (MSAE) def. Punj (FF) 6-4, 6-3; Mong (NUH) def. Huiskamp (DA) 5-7, 6-1, 10-5; Hamilton (G) def. Brooks (LM) 6-2, 6-1.
FIRST ROUND — No. 1 Sam Stickels and Thomas Weiss (MSAE) def. Kolby Jones and David Breiner (Sioux City Bishop Heelan) 6-3, 6-4; Kai Brown and Lucas Hunter (Decorah) def. Jordan Nelson and Craig White (RO) 6-3, 6-4; Kyle Gacke and Eric Lammers (DA) def. Jerry Kockler and Paul Raner (Clear Lake) 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Brannon Johnson and David Lapthorn (Pella) def. Peter Reitgraf and Ryan Vincent (Ballard) 6-4, 7-6; No. 3 Chad Moklestad and Mitch McPartland (B) def. Gabe Vandenberg and Dan Williams (Keokuk) 6-1, 6-0; Mitch Leiferman and Tyler Fischer (Atlantic) def. Chris Barnard and Robert Hart (WC) 7-6, 6-4; Brandon Stoll and Wes Berquist (Spirit Lake-Okoboji) def. Ben Albright and John Eide (FDSE) 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Brandon Schneider and Tom Runde (Dubuque Walhert) def. Dustin Decker and Josh Hoyle (Chariton) 6-0, 6-0.
QUARTERFINALS — No. 1 Stickels and Weiss (MSAE) def. Brown and Hunter (D) 6-2, 6-1; Gacke and Lammers (DA) def. No. 4 Johnson and Lapthorn (P) 6-1, 7-2; No. 3 Moklestad and McPartland (B) Leiferman and Fischer (Atl.) 6-0, 6-2; No. 2 Schneider and Runde (DW) def. Stoll and Berquist (SLO) 6-4, 6-2.
FIRST ROUND CONSOLATION — Nelson and White (RO) def. Jones and Breiner (SCBH) 5-7, 6-3, 10-6; Reitgraf and Vincent (B) def. Jerry Kockler and Paul Raner (CL) 6-7, 6-4, 10-7; Vandenberg and Williams (K) def. Barnard and Hart (WC) 7-5, 7-5; Albright and Eide (FDSE) def. Decker and Hoyle (Char.) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
SECOND ROUND CONSOLATION – Vandenberg and Williams (K) def. Brown and Hunter (D) 6-2, 6-2; No. 4 Johnson and Lapthorn (P) def. Albright and Eide (FDSE) 6-3, 6-4; Nelson and White (RO) def. Leiferman and Fischer (Atl.) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); Stoll and Berquist (SPO) def. Reitgraf and Vincent (B) 6-2, 4-6, 10-5.
Class 1A State Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournament
At Byrnes Tennis Center, Waterloo
SEMIFINALS — No. 1 John Ellis (Boone) vs. No. 4 Pete Walker (Red Oak); No. 3 Alex Bernt (Waterloo Columbus) vs. No. 2 Aaron Chalstrom (Fort Dodge St. Edmond)
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS – Michael Gabhart (Spencer) vs. Sam Arsanjani (Fairfield Maharasi); Andy Mong (Northern University High) vs. Will Hamilton (Grinnell).
SEMIFINALS — No. 1 Sam Stickels and Thomas Weiss (MSAE) vs. Kyle Gacke and Eric Lammers (Davenport Assumption); No. 3 Chad Moklestad and Mitch McPartland (Boone) vs. No. 2 Brandon Schneider and Tom Runde (Dubuque Walhert).
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS – Gabe Vandenberg and Dan Williams (Keokuk) vs. No. 4 Brannon Johnson and David Lapthorn (Pella); Jordan Nelson and Craig White (Red Oak) vs. Brandon Stoll and Wes Berquist (Spirit Lake-Okoboji).