Facing a unit they’d already fallen to this season, things could have soured quickly for Jack Ives and Ryan Chmelik when they fell behind early.
The Altoona No. 2 doubles team dropped the first set of their sectional final to Aquinas’ Nathan Koch and Ethan Schamberger 6-3 on Wednesday. They’d already lost to the pair early in the spring, and things weren’t looking up.
Ives and Chmelik pulled things together at the best time possible. They cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set to force a tiebreaker, and clinched a sectional championship by winning it 10-6.
“When they lost that first set, I was a little nervous,” Altoona coach Michael Barr said. “I was like, ‘Let’s not have a repeat of last time.’ But they came back. They play great when they’re feeling good, so when they play positive they play really well. It was a real nail-biter, but they got through in the end, which I was very happy with.”
Rightfully so. With the victory, Altoona clinched a second doubles team’s berth to the Division 2 state tournament. The Rails’ No. 1 duo of Ty Rondestvedt and Dan Harris had already punched their ticket earlier in the day.
With both pairs state-bound, it’s the first time since 2015 that the Rails will have two duos headed to state.
“It’s been a little while since that’s happened, so that was a great bonus for today,” Barr said. “The fact that we’ve got four kids going to state, that’s great. We haven’t had that in six years.”
Altoona has sent at least one doubles team to state in every season since 2010, but getting two there is rare. This is just the second time they’ve done it in the last decade.
Rondestvedt and Harris took second in the No. 1 doubles flight, reaching the championship before falling to Aquinas’ Garrett Butler and Seth Capelli 7-5, 6-0. They swept teams from West Salem and Baldwin-Woodville in straight sets to get there.
“They had some good wins, and Aquinas definitely has the best No. 1 doubles team here so I knew that one would be a challenge,” Barr said. “Our guys lost, but they gave it their all and fought hard so I’m happy with how they did. They’ve really gelled this season.”
Regis will also send a contingent to the state tournament. Singles player Alex Erickson qualified for state by beating Amery’s Luke Julson 6-4, 1-6, 13-11 in the first round of the No. 1 flight. He finished third in the flight, beating Medford’s Logan Searles 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 in the third-place match.
The win over Julson was a highlight for Erickson. Julson hadn’t dropped a set all season before playing the Regis sophomore.
“He’s a kid that just fights for every point,” Regis coach Kyle Seyer said. “He’s not going to give up on anything. He keeps a calm head and is very even-keeled out there. He played as long as he could and gave himself a chance. He’s kind of peaking at the right time.”
The Ramblers’ doubles duo of Anderson Lowry and Jack Merrick will join Erickson at state. They defeated Osceola’s Travis Jennings and Jackson Dvorak in straight sets in the first round to punch their ticket.
The two played an Aquinas juggernaut in the form of Garrett Butler and Seth Capelli in the semifinals, falling 7-5, 6-1. They went on to take third place in the No. 1 flight.
“They did great,” Seyer said. “They took care of business. They played some great tennis against Aquinas. They probably played their best tennis of the year in that first set, but just ran out of steam. Hopefully they can carry on their momentum over at state.”
This is the first time Regis has gotten both a singles player and doubles duo to state since 2017.
“It’s great,”Seyer said. “Really I’m just happy for the kids, getting to state is a big accomplishment.”
Baldwin-Woodville’s doubles team of Sam Sykora and Caleb Lokker is also state-bound. They took fourth place in the No. 1 flight on Wednesday.
Aquinas won the team sectional title, holding off Medford in a tiebreaker. Regis took third and Altoona placed fourth.
The Division 2 individual state tournament is set for June 17-19 at Sports Core in Kohler.