By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR RAPIDS – The saying goes ‘you have to beat the best to be the best’.
Cole Schneider and Jack Wenzel didn’t just beat the best on their way to a Class 2A doubles title, the West High tandem bested the only teams to have beat them.
Wenzel and Schneider avenged both of their regular season losses in less than 24 hours, winning the 2A doubles title with a 6-2, 6-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Washington team of Rami Scheetz and Ty Sherman at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids.
“They stepped up at the right time,” West High coach Mitch Gross said. “You have to play your best tennis at the state tournament and Cole and Jack did that. They really raised their game at the right moment.”
Wenzel and Schneider entered the state tournament with losses to the Linn-Mar duo of Ben Hediger and Lucas Huffman and a 6-4, 7-5 setback at the hands of Sheetz and Sherman in the district final.
The West High duo won a three-set thriller over Linn-Mar in the quarterfinals on Friday and secured their state title with the win over Sheetz and Sherman on Saturday.
“Ty and Rami are such great players but I think Cole and I played super well together,” Wenzel said. “I feel like we were connected on the court today and we were ready to go.”
Wenzel and Schneider were close to a state title last season.
The duo reached the state final before falling to Pleasant Valley’s Sriram Sugumaran and Charlie Humes in the title match.
Last year’s title loss provided some extra motivation that lead to a lot of extra practice sessions between the two partners.
On Saturday that extra practice paid off in a big way.
“Those extra practices where huge,” Wenzel said. “We didn’t want to get second again. It sucked to get second. Just those extra practices definitely helped today.”
Schneider and Wenzel cruised into the finals with a 6-2, 6-0 win over the Mason City tandem of Josh VandenBerg and Nicholas Matthews.
Facing the talented sophomore combination of Sheetz and Sherman for the second time in a little more than two weeks the West High dup turned the tables from the district loss with an emphatic straight set win.
“I felt like we were more aggressive today,” Schneider said. “We just came out and played our game I think that was a big difference. We made a lot of returns and a lot of first serves today and that was a big difference.”
Schneider and Wenzel became the fifth doubles team in West High history to win a state title and first since David DiLeo and Jack Wenzel’s older brother Karl won in 2014.
“It’s amazing to do it with someone else,” Schneider said. “You have to play well but you have to have your partner play well at the same time so to have two people play well at the same time good things will happen.”
The title by Wenzel and Schneider was part of a historic day for West High.
Jiung Jung won his third consecutive 2A singles title as West High won singles and doubles titles in the same year for the first time in program history.
It was the first time a Class 2A team had pulled off the feat since Des Moines Roosevelt in 2009.
“It just feels amazing to be part of West High history,” Wenzel said. “That’s a really cool feeling.”
Jung was locked in a tight second set with City High’s Joe Hoff when Wenzel and Schneider locked up the doubles title.
Seeing his teammates celebrate was the extra push Jung needed to become the fourth player in state history to win three singles titles.
“Definitely having Cole and Jack on the other side was huge,” Jung said. “Seeing them get pumped up and seeing them have success just motivated me more.”