By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR RAPIDS – Leading up to his final state tournament Jiung Jung did his best to avoid thinking about what was at stake.
Jung entered the Class 2A state tournament in Cedar Rapids attempting to become the fourth three-time state singles champion in state history.
“I tried not to think about it too much when I was preparing for the tournament,” Jung said. “It was a little overwhelming to think about.”
If Jung allowed himself to think about a third state title Saturday’s outcome would have been nearly exactly what he imagined.
Jung defeated City High senior Joe Hoff 6-0, 7-6 (4) in the 2A state title match for the second straight season to claim his third consecutive 2A singles crown at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center.
He joined the West High doubles team of Cole Schneider and Jack Wenzel as state champions as the Trojans won singles and doubles titles in the same year for the first time in program history.
“Honestly more than the whole becoming the fourth person with three titles thing it was just really special to be out here with Cole and Jack and with Joe and all my good friends growing up and competing at a high level,” Jung said. “That was really special me.”
Before Saturday, Jung had already staked a claim as one of the best in state history but cemented that status with his third straight title.
Jung become the first three-time champion since Charlie Caris of Des Moines Roosevelt won his third title in 2009 and joins Tyler Cleveland (Maharishi) and Art Andrews (City High) as players with three singles titles.
During his three-year run atop the 2A singles bracket Jung compiled a 71-1 record that included a stretch of 60 consecutive wins.
“You have to let history judge that but when you are one of only four people to ever do something you are in good company,” West High coach Mitch Gross said. “I think his legacy is cemented. He is going to go down as one of the best and he should.”
It was only fitting that for Hoff to take his spot in state history he went through his long-time friend and practice partner Hoff.
Saturday’s title match was the sixth meeting between Hoff and Jung over the past two seasons and third in 25 days.
Hoff snapped the 60-match winning streak for Jung with a three-set win in a regular season dual meet on May 2 and Jung won a three-setter of his own in the district final on May 11.
Jung won the season rubber match on Saturday fending off a strong second set from Hoff with a tie-breaker win.
“It was a super close second set It’s very tiring thing to do but Jiung was playing great today,” Hoff said. “There is not a lot you can do when you are in a tie break and there are great points being played like he was playing.”
Jung didn’t drop a set at the state tournament, reaching the final with a 6-0, 6-3 win over fourth-seeded Timothy Ellis.
He improved to 21-1 on the season with the first straight set victory in the series with Hoff since a 6-4, 6-0 win in last year’s state title match.
“I think the key here was playing a little more aggressively and dictating more,” Jung said. “When I think back to the match I lost to him he was in control of a lot of points and same with the first set of our second match he was just in control. When I am in control that is when I am playing my best tennis I just knew coming in that I had to do that.”
For the second year in a row Hoff won a three-set, semifinal match over second-seeded Jonny Bowser of Fort Dodge to set up a meeting with Jung in the finals.
His title match loss was the fifth in the past two seasons for Hoff who went 36-1 against players other than Jung over that stretch.
“I played good today, that is the goal of tennis to play well,” Hoff said. “I was happy with how I played, I definitely improved from last year so it’s a positive.”
The loss capped a tremendous career for Hoff who was the first City High state finalist since Steven Molen in 1985.
He joined Art Andrews (1953-1955), Jamie Andrews (1951-1952) Rich Strauss (1963-1964) and Molen as the only two-time finalists in program history.
“Matured is a good way to put it, he has grown up in every way, physically mentally and his tennis game is much better,” City High coach Chip Hardesty said of Hoff. “In every possible way he has matured and is just a great young guy.”