After a successful run at state singles and doubles, the Waukee boys tennis team took to the state scene as a team Tuesday within the confines of Lifetime Athletic in Urbandale.
The Warriors were among just four teams across the Class 2A landscape to grace the team state stage. It was a big deal for Waukee tennis coaches, fans, and especially players as noted by senior star Noah Burmeister, who just finished up with Will Ecklund as the first ever Waukee boys tennis duo to win state doubles.
“I’m very glad that we made it here as a team because not everybody on our team gets to go to state singles and doubles,” began Burmeister. “It’s an amazing atmosphere and it’s something I wish everyone on the team could experience and with us making team state, they can. It also shows how far we’ve come as a team not just this year but over the past few years.”
The Warriors came into the tournament as the third seed and started the day off against second-seeded Pleasant Valley. Both teams matched their regular season ranking and both teams put on quite a show for the fans. Unfortunately for the Warriors, it wasn’t the ultimate outing they were hoping for as they dropped the overall match 5-1. Against one of the top individual Class 2A’s singles runner up, Waukee’s Will Ecklund had all he could handle and more. An early deficit piled on as the first set wore on, ending in a 6-3 defeat across set one. Ecklund made a huge push in set two and drew the closest set he would play all day, but unfortunately, the final two set points fell away from the sophomore, thus ending his day in singles two sets to none.
The only victory of the first match came from senior star Noah Burmeister, who got off to a 4-0 start, only to end up claiming set one 6-1 before besting Nathan Wong in two sets with a 6-0 set two victory. Despite early success, Sam Fouts wasn’t able to retrieve the same success he had as he entered into state singles as he dropped set one by a 6-3 margin followed by dropping set two by a 6-2 final. Steven Danna, unfortunately, met a similar fate falling behind early in set one for a 6-2 loss followed by a 6-3 set two defeat. The closest contest of the match was from Jujit Mekala who went back and forth with Kiran Marla in set one but unfortunately, the freshman fell 6-4 in the opening set. With an early deficit to begin set two, Mekala just could catch up and ultimately was defeated in two sets.
An early 6-2 set one loss didn’t deter fellow freshman Sai Rayasam from putting up a fight late to extend the set past six points but, already down one, the decisive blow came late as Pleasant Valley’s Brady Adams, a singles state contestant, pulled through, defeating Rayasam. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they didn’t get the chance to send the contest into doubles as Pleasant Valley took the win 5-1 and later went on to take runner up.
With the opening round loss, that meant that the Warriors were fighting for third place. The opening round loss lit a big fire under Waukee as they came out strong in the consolation match, besting Ankeny Centennial by a 5-1 margin. All but one Warrior took a victory in that match-up, with the only defeat coming against Will Ecklund who fell to Will Blevins, a fourth-place finisher in the Class 2A singles state tournament. Late set one faults gave way to a 6-3 set one loss but then the sophomore stormed back in set two, giving up just one set point to even out the match via a 6-1 score. Unfortunately for Ecklund, in the decisive set three, the one point needed to win went against him and he concluded his state tournament time with a loss.
Noah Burmeister continued to rack in success, giving up just two set points across both sets winning set one 6-2 and using a fast start to claim set two 6-0. Sam Fouts, who felt defeat in round one, bounced back to best Ryan Lofgren in set one by a 6-2 margin but then faced adversity in set two when a one-point exchange, back and forth set fell against the junior 7-6. That then set up the do-or-die set three and quickly Fouts pounced on a weak volley by his opponent, earning him the victory.
Steven Danna also picked up a revenge victory, doing so over Centennial’s James Cole with an unblemished 6-0 set one victory followed by a 6-1 set two victory. Pujit Mekala bested his opponent in two straight sets 6-1 and 6-1 while fellow freshman Rayasam pulled ahead early and withstood a Joel Unick attack late to earn the set one win 6-4 while taking set two in easier fashion 6-2.
Just like in the opening round, with the match already at hand, the contest did not flow into the doubles matches as the Warriors officially took third place as a team. With the season officially coming to a close with the conclusion of team state, the Warriors will be saying goodbye to six seniors, including Burmeister who was extremely happy to be at state in the first place.
“I am very competitive and am looking to win but at the same time I know this is my last day playing high school tennis and I’m going to enjoy as much of it as I possibly can,” started Burmeister. “I have had such a great time playing here at Waukee, under great coaches and playing with great teammates. I am happy to be here and to share the experience with my family and teammates.”