DiLeo Gets District Doubles Title in Final Home Match

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – The official senior day celebration for Brad DiLeo came last week and it wasn’t even home.

The lone senior in the West High lineup, DiLeo celebrated his final home meet following a win over City High down the road from West High at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center.

In his last official match on the West High courts DiLeo got a proper sendoff on Wednesday.

DiLeo and freshman Eli Young rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over teammates Jack Wenzel and Mukundan Kasturirangan to win the district doubles title at West High.

“I’m happy for all my players and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m really happy that our senior won his last district championship,” West High coach Mitch Gross said. “Brad is a guy that because of the depth and talent that we’ve had on our teams he’s always been under the radar in a lot of aspects and I’m glad he had a chance to shine today.”

The three-set win by DiLeo and Young was the highlight of an all-West High championship round as the Trojans rolled to the team title.

West High junior Sam Shin defeated teammate Sasha Chackalackal 6-1, 6-2 to win the singles title as West High finished with 35 points, 22 more than runner-up Ottumwa while Newton was third with 10 points.

It was just the second time West High had accounted for all four district finalists in the decorated 17-year career of Gross and the district title gives the two-time defending 2A team champion Trojans an opening round bye.

“It’s pretty impressive having all West in the finals but like I’ve said before we aren’t going to get stuck on this,” Shin said. “We are going to keep going forward.”

The all West High final was no surprise in either bracket.

West High entries accounted for the top two seeds in both the singles and doubles competition.

The Trojans’ doubles tandems were on a crash course for a title matchup from the beginning.  

Second-seeded DiLeo and Young defeated the Ottumwa squad of Christian Howard and Austen Merrill 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and dispatched of the fourth-seeded Newton team of Collin Hemann and Brady Eberline 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.

The top-seed, Wenzel and Kasturirangan defeated City High’s Kahleb Fallon and Billy Samuelson 6-0, 6-0 in the quarters and downed the Davenport Central duo of Eddie Van Camp and Mike Niniter 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals.

“It was a little weird playing them but I expected that to happen,” DiLeo said. “I give credit to them they work their butts off and they are a great doubles team and maybe we can meet them again in the state championship. It’s going to be a great state tournament.”

DiLeo and Young dropped the opening set 6-4 but rallied for a 6-4 win in the second forcing a third set on their eighth set point.

“Once we lost 6-4 then I said ‘we start fresh, clear things up’ and then we won two sets 6-4," DiLeo said. “Hopefully that's a boost for us."

The two doubles team were virtually even from the beginning. And even before the match began.

At a Tuesday practice DiLeo said he and Young lost 7-5 to Wenzel and Kasturirangan.

“I’m happy that we were able to pull it out,” DiLeo said. “I knew going in it wa

s going to be a three-set match. They are a great team.”DiLeo and Young improved to 18-0 on the season with the three wins on Wednesday.

In their first year together the duo has forged a strong on-court relationship.

“I love playing doubles with Brad because he’s just always excited,” Young said. “I think we’ve improved a lot playing together so this was a big win.”

DiLeo and Young spent the season playing in the number three doubles spot on a loaded West High squad.Now the duo gets a cha

nce to play for a state championship on May 25-26 at Veterans Memorial Tennis Complex in Cedar Rapids.

DiLeo knows something about state doubles titles.

His older brother David won a state doubles title with teammate Karl Wenzel after playing number three doubles all season.

“We had a three doubles team a few years ago that ended up being state champions,” Gross said. “On our team your spot hasn’t really mattered, we just have very little separation on our team which is a strength for sure.”

Shin was impressive on his way to the singles title.

He won back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 victories over Joey Mitchell of Ottumwa and Grant Hammond of Newton before downing teammate Chackalackal in the title match.

“It’s obviously very odd because you want to win and do everything you can but at the same time it is your teammate and you don’t want to see them lose,” Shin said. “I wasn’t sure if I should be cheering or not.”