Shomo medals, settles for sixth
CEDAR RAPIDS Ryan Shomo could get used to this.
And in a few months’ time, he’ll have to.
Experiencing both victory and defeat against another pair of elite opponents in the Class 2A Iowa High School Boys State Tennis Tournament Saturday, the Cedarville University recruit got another taste of what to expect when he takes the court at the next level.
Though his prep career ended in defeat, the Bobcat senior came away mostly satisfied with his sixth place finish and eager for the similar caliber of competition that awaits him in Ohio.
“This is the upper-level competition which is all there will ever be in college,” said Shomo, who will join the Division II Yellow Jackets’ tennis team this fall.
“It’s nice to look forward to these tough, fun matches. This is what I have to look forward to the next four years.”
Shomo had two tough matches on his hands on the final day of the tournament, which was moved inside to Coe College’s Clark Racquet Center due to heavy rainfall.
Seeing his tournament run come full circle, Shomo squared off against Indianola freshman Jackson Guilford in the fifth-place bout, a rematch between first round foes.
While Shomo dominated Friday’s meeting by a 6-1, 6-3 tally, Guilford turned the tables nearly 24 hours later to win by the same score.
“I knew I had to keep him off-balance again to beat him,” Shomo said.
“Right off the bat I wasn’t making any of my slices and I wasn’t making any shots that could get him off his game. I had to abandon that plan and try to beat him with his own game, which is really hard because he’s a great, aggressive player.”
MHS coach James Christensen also noticed how Saturday’s surroundings amplified Jackson’s game.
“Playing inside with a much quicker surface sets up well for Jackson,” MHS coach James Christensen said of the powerful swinger.
“Those big hitters like being in a controlled environment with no wind, no sun no elements at all. Ryan was a little bit off and Jackson took advantage of it and hit the ball really well.”
While Shomo’s strategy didn’t pay off in his season finale, his more defensive-minded approach did the trick against Ames’ Andrew Ellis. Breaking back from a 5-6 deficit in the first set, the Bobcat lefty rallied for a 7-6 (5), 6-1 triumph avenging a straight sets loss against the Little Cyclone earlier this season.
After forcing the tiebreaker, Shomo responded from a 1-3 hole to claim the next five points before hanging on for the 7-5 win and cruising through the second set.
Shomo’s best line of defense proved to be turning Ellis’ weapons against himself.
“I didn’t really have any way of hurting (Ellis) so I just looked to stay in the points long enough for him to hurt himself,” Shomo said.
“Last time we played he was on but today I was able to stay in the points long enough to catch a couple breaks.”
And against this heavy hitter, the plan worked to perfection.
“Andrew has probably the best forehand in the state and (Ryan) just sat back there absorbing that power and sending it right back to him,” Christensen said.
“Throughout that tiebreaker and the whole second set, he just used Andrew’s power against him.”
While reflecting on the tournament had Shomo unsettled on a couple matches, the overall experience left him plenty satisfied with his performance and the program’s first placewinner since Kyle Krabbe took eighth in 2005.
“A few matches were frustrating and I feel like I played incredible up until this last match,” Shomo (16-4) said of his tournament performance.
“I wish I could go back and be healthy for the quarterfinal match. I felt like I was kind of running away with it before the cramps came but I don’t really want to focus on that. I played really well and I played a lot of tough opponents so I’m happy to finish where I did.”
Christensen also was pleased with the senior’s final outing, though not quite ready to accept the reality of moving on without the four-year varsity stalwart next season.
“I really haven’t processed the fact that Ryan is not going to be out there next year,” Christensen said.
“He’s meant so much getting other kids involved in tennis and getting fans out there. He helped some of the guys that just started and showed them what it is to work and get better on a daily basis.”
And like Shomo’s transition to the next level, Christensen will have his own adjustment to make when the season picks up again next spring.
“Ryan is going to be sorely missed,” Christensen said.
“Come next March, I’m going to be lost for a couple days I think.”
Shomo’s quarterfinal opponent, Alex Huang of Ames, finished third overall. Linn-Mar’s Brady Anderson cruised to the title 6-0, 6-0 over Charlie Humes of Pleasant ValleyShomo woke up extremely sore from Friday’s three-match outing that included severe cramping in his second match. Christensen saw the senior ignore that pain once Saturday’s action got underway. “He was very sore but once the match started he kind of shoved all that pain down. He’ll deal with it tomorrow. If he’s actually able to walk across the stage at graduation, I’ll be pretty impressed. He fought out there for us.”