By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
After closing his freshman season with a runner-up doubles finish at the state tournament West High’s Jack Wenzel wanted nothing more than to win a state title as a sophomore.
Actually, Wenzel did want something more than earning the first state title of his career in his sophomore season.
He wanted to send his senior doubles partner Cole Schneider out with a state title.
“I just wanted to play for him,” Wenzel said. “It’s his last chance so I wanted to play as good as I could so we have the best chance to win it all.”
Wenzel got his wish on Saturday, teaming with Schneider to win the Class 2A state doubles crown at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids. Schneider and Wenzel defeated the Cedar Rapids Washington sophomore tandem of Tyler Sherman and Rami Scheetz 6-2, 6-2 in the state title match.
The doubles title came on the heels of last year’s runner-up finish in which Schneider and Wenzel fell in straight sets in the 2A title match to Pleasant Valley’s Charlie Humes and Sriram Sugumaran.
“Last year motivated us to win this year,” Schneider said. “I think that was really key.”
In order to send Schneider out with a title the West High duo needed to avenge a pair of regular season losses.
Schneider and Wenzel fell to the Linn-Mar team of juniors Lucas Huffman and Ben Hediger 6-2, 6-4 during a regular season dual and dropped a 6-4, 7-5 decision to Scheetz and Sherman in the district final.
They avenged both losses in less than 24 hours last weekend.
“Championship players raise their game, that is what they do,” West High coach Mitch Gross said. “We have been a pretty good state championship team whether it’s been at the team or individual tournaments. I think we get ready for tournament time.”
Schneider and Wenzel were certainly ready last weekend.
They rallied from a loss in the opening set to down Huffman and Hediger 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a quarterfinal on Friday.
In the semifinals, the West High duo cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Mason City’s Josh VandenBerg and Nicholas Matthews.
“I definitely felt like we improved a lot as the season went on and as the tournament went on,” Schneider said. “We worked on our volleys a lot and worked on returns to set up the point.”
Schneider and Wenzel avenged their loss to Scheetz and Sherman with a 6-2, 6-2 win in the title match.
The duo joined West High senior singles champion Jiung Jung as 2A champs on Saturday as West High had singles and doubles champion in the same year for the first time in the history of the celebrated program.
“With our success last year, we said right away that we wanted to go after it again,” Wenzel said. “We wanted to finish it off this year.”
Schneider and Wenzel played key roles as West High captured the tennis triple crown with a Class 2A team title on Tuesday.
Both had wins in a 5-1 semifinal win over No. 7 West Des Moines Valley and Schneider clinched the Trojans' 5-1 win over Linn-Mar in the title match with a win at number one singles.
“I am so proud of our team,” Schneider said. “It's amazing to be a part of this and a great way to finish my career.”