For West High to win back-to-back state titles in boys tennis on Tuesday, the Trojans had to put their faith in each other.
Tied with Cedar Falls in the Class 2A championship after splitting six matches in singles play, the Trojans needed a pair of doubles wins to clinch the title.
The top 2A doubles team of Kyle Appel and Blake Oetting had the match-clinching win, beating Roy Ju and Andy Mong 6-4, 6-2. That was about 15 minutes after the No. 3 doubles team of Karl Wenzel and David DiLeo rolled to a 6-0, 6-4 win over Rex Ju and Greg Power.
West won 5-3.
“We have a deep team, as far as singles,” Cedar Falls coach Brian Suiter said. “What is special about them is doubles. I attribute that to having five players in the same class. Their chemistry in doubles is amazing, they’ve been playing together so long.”
Wenzel and DiLeo have been playing together for years. It may be why the duo — despite not playing together since the end of the regular season — showed no rust.
“We hadn’t played for awhile, but we grew up together,” Wenzel said. “We were best buddies growing up, hanging out at the pool and playing tennis all the time. I have total faith in him as a person and a player.”
The Tigers lost to the Trojans 6-3 back in April, so splitting singles 3-3 instead of losing 4-2 like they did the first time was a big step toward the upset.
“I’m always nervous,” West coach Mitch Gross said. “I was nervous, to be honest. But I think our experience kept us in this, our poise.”
Wenzel and DiLeo set the tone for doubles play, rolling to a 6-0 win in their first set against Ju and Power.
“They dominated,” Gross said. “For them to come out and win like that was very impressive.”
Playing next to each other on the courts at the Ankeny Tennis Courts at the Prairie Ridge Sports Complex, the Trojans could monitor how their teammates were doing.
“It definitely fires us up,” Appel said. “Our team fires us up. We’re yelling at each other even when we’re playing.”
Appel and Oetting — who just won the 2A doubles title Saturday — found themselves in a quick 3-0 hole to Ju and Mong.
“I was kind of tired and down from losing my singles match,” Appel said. “We came out swinging and made a lot of unforced errors.
“Then we cooled down and played within each other again.”
The Trojans’ top team ended up winning the first set 6-4. After DiLeo and Wenzel had won, Oetting and Appel knew if they won their match, West would clinch the championship.
“We get fired up when the crowd starts cheering,” Appel said.
Oetting served out the final point and the Trojans rushed the court to celebrate.
It was back-to-back titles for the Trojans, and the fifth team title for West High overall.
With five titles, West is now tied for third with Cedar Rapids Washington for most Class 2A titles all-time. Camanche has nine and Dubuque Wahlert eight, but both are Class 1A programs.
“Its huge,” Gross said. “It’s the greatest feeling to know you’re the best at what you do. These players have worked their tails off.”
The victory was the 36th straight for the Trojans and makes them 53-1 over the past three seasons — the only loss coming in the 2011 2A championship.
“To win back-to-back titles is incredible,” Wenzel said. “All that pressure, everyone is trying to get to you, to knock out the defending champions.”
The Trojans likely will wear that target again next year, as they lose only Appel among the players who competed Tuesday.
West High 5, W.D.M. Valley 0
Singles – Kyle Appel (W) def. Ryan Peterson 6-0, 6-0; Blake Oetting (W) vs. Anders Jensen DNF; David DiLeo (W) def. Yasha Litvak 6-4, 6-3; Adam Dellos (W) def. Tom Maigaard 6-0, 6-1; Trent Schneider (W) def. Noah Ridgway 6-1, 6-0; Karl Wenzel (W) def. Shaan Madhan 6-1, 6-1.
Cedar Falls 5, Ames 1
Singles – James McManus (CF) def. Alex Qin 6-4, 7-5; Roy Ju (CF) def. Alex Huang 2-6, 6-4, 6-1; Tommy PItcher (A) def. Rex Ju 6-3, 6-2; Andy Mong (CF) def. Andrew Ellis 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Brennan Ashwood (CF) def. Tim Loe 6-2, 6-1; Vineel Mallavarapu (CF) def. Sam Lee 6-2, 6-2.
Ames 5, West Des Moines Valley 3
West High 5, Cedar Falls 3
Singles – James McManus (CF) def. Kyle Appel 6-2, 6-2; Blake Oetting (W) def. Roy Ju 6-4, 6-3; David DiLeo (W) def. Rex Ju 7-5, 6-1; Andy Mong (CF) def. Adam Dellos 7-5, 6-3; Brennan Ashwood (CF) def. Trent Schneider 6-4, 6-3; Karl Wenzel (W) def. Vineel Mallavarapu 6-4, 6-3.
Doubles – Appel/Oetting (W) def. Roy Ju/Mong 6-4, 6-2; McManus/Ashwood (CF) vs. A.Dellos/Schneider 6-4, 3-4, dnf; DiLeo/Wenzel (W) def. Rex Ju/Greg Power 6-0, 6-4.