WATERLOO - The St. Edmond boys tennis team earned two state championships last spring. Now, they are back and hungry for more.
The doubles teams of John Eide and Zach Gailey, along with Jimmy Averill and Konrad Laufersweiler, advanced through districts as champion and runners-up. They will be vying for state gold along with 14 other pairs here starting today.
Play begins immediately following the seeding meeting at Byrne's Park Tennis Complex, likely around 10 a.m.
Aaron Chalstrom earned state individual gold after making it to the finals for a fourth consecutive season. He helped the Gaels to the team state title as well, but has since moved on.
Eide and Gailey own a 4-0 record on the year after qualifying for state and going 0-2 last spring after falling to Averill and Laufersweiler in the district finals.
The limited record was due to Eide suffering a broken hand in the preseason and missing the bulk of the schedule.
All four were varsity regulars last season, so competing on the big stage is nothing new to them.
"Experience will be a big factor this year, as only two district champions return their exact same doubles team from last year," SEHS head coach Tyler Philipsen said. "I think that understanding what the atmosphere will be, as well as what it takes to win a match down at state, will definitely be a factor in the opening rounds."
Pella's Tom Palmer and Aaron Van Maanen finished eighth last spring as juniors. Philipsen also pointed to Fairfield Maharishi's duo of Solaris Nite and Surya Sawhney as a favorite.
Eide is making his third appearance at state doubles, having qualified his freshman year with Ben Albright, while Gailey is a three-time qualifier, advancing twice now in doubles and once in singles.
"I have seen what both our doubles teams are capable of when playing well, and I think they are both capable of playing with anyone we will see at state," Philipsen said. "Between their experience against some very good doubles teams, as well as determination to surpass last year's results, I think both teams have a good chance of placing."
Averill and Laufersweiler went 8-4 together this past spring. They went 1-2 at state a season ago.
"Through playing in team state and winning it last year, the level of competition the boys have faced has been tremendous in postseason play," Philipsen said. "You don't get better if you're never challenged. These boys have been lucky to have great tennis experiences over the last four years and hopefully it will pay off this weekend."
Norwalk's Austin LaVelle and Grant Wright were doubles champions last year, but they are now in 2A and qualified for state this season.
First and second round action in both singles and doubles will take place today, along with consolation first and second round play, while the semifinals and finals in both are set for Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
CLASS 1A STATE TENNIS QUALIFIERS
District champions - Jamison Roozeboom, Pella; Nathan Greiner, North Polk; Alexander Punj, Fairfield; Jordan Nelson, Red Oak; Sam Jones, Clear Lake; Alex Kaldahl, Spencer; Connor Barnard, Waterloo Columbus; Kyle D'mello, Cedar Rapids Xavier.
District runners-up - Jared McClung, Knoxville; Garret Taylor, Creston/Orient-Macksburg; Sam Stickels, Fairfield Maharishi; Philip Meier, Shenandoah; Caleb Perkins, Iowa Falls-Alden; Dustin Dorhout, Sioux City Heelan; Jeff Horak, Waterloo Columbus; Cam Long, Dubuque Wahlert.
District champions - Tom Palmer/Aaron Van Maanen, Pella; Collin Morris/Jared Jamison, Clarke; Solaris Nite/Surya Sawhney, Fairfield Maharishi; Dedric Kettwick/Austin Smith, Clarinda; John Eide/Zach Gailey, St. Edmond; Matt Ellefson/Josh Sluiter, LeMars; Fran Hart/Carson Ellingson, Waterloo Columbus; CJ Cliff/Gable Lonning, Decorah.
District runners-up - Sam Dylestra/Colin Jones, Pella; Eddie Smith/Danny Anderson, Boone; Zach Schmitz/Tyler Pace, Mount Pleasant; Cole Peckham/Max Chavez, Glenwood; Jimmy Averill/Konrad Laufersweiler, St. Edmond; Michael O'Brien/Ryley Smith, Spirit Lake; McClain Holst/Jack Behrens, Waverly-Shell Rock; Karl Sand/Caleb Ulring, Decorah.