WATERLOO — Evan Timmerman fell just short of making the medal round at the Class 1A Boys State Individual Tennis Tournament as he won one of three matches on day one of the singles competition Tuesday, May 23 at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.
This ended Timmerman’s stay at the tournament. While the medal round was what Timmerman hoped for, his head coach, Steve McGrew, said he couldn’t be prouder of the effort of his number one player, who finished 15-3 on the season, including a district championship in singles on May 8 that qualified him for the state tournament.
“Evan gives a gutsy effort every time he plays tennis, and that was clear at state,” McGrew said. “He started out the day strong, hit some rough patches at times, and never stopped competing. He admitted that the gas tank, so to speak, may have been a little empty near the end of the day, but, to be fair, it was because of an epic battle in his first match of the tournament.”
The epic battle was with Tate Neymeyer of Aplington-Parkersburg, considered one of the two strongest district runner-ups along with North Polk’s Ethan Moon. Neymeyer, the district runner up to number one seed Caden Branum of Decorah, defeated Timmerman in a marathon encounter that lasted two and a half hours. The A-P number one player edged Timmerman, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).
“Evan was incredibly sharp at the start,” McGrew said. “It didn’t surprise me. He had a real solid practice the evening before at Byrnes Park. He also looked good in the morning warm up. He served well in set one and really pinpointed Neymeyer’s backhand. But Neymeyer got his backhand in order and really started nailing his topspin forehand and deadening some volleys over the net that barely bounced. Neymeyer has tremendous hands at the net. He is a talented player that only lost 4-6, 3-6, and 3-6, 3-6 to Branum, who is an incredible player. Neymeyer split two matches with Grundy Center’s number one player, a state qualifier in doubles. He also beat Waverly-Shell Rock’s number one Benny Ramker, who made the semifinals in doubles in this very same tournament. He dismantled everyone else on A-P’s schedule this season. In a class 1A Twitter poll, he was ranked in the top 10 among 1A players in the state in singles, which included two top Pella players who are in doubles in this tournament.”
McGrew said that the third set “was an absolute physical display of the ability of both guys. When you watch the top pros on television, it is always a thrill for viewers when you see both guys playing at their best. The same idea applies at the high school level when you watch a match live. It was a joy to watch two guys play at such a high level. They were covering court so well and making so many great shots in multiple long rallies and in games that went to deuce. In the end, Neymeyer was more solid in the tie-breaker. The match was so intensely long that all the other courts had matches, both in singles and doubles, that were well into the second round.”
Timmerman regrouped in his first consolation match, winning 6-1, 6-0 over Trent Turba of Grinnell. “Evan’s power was too much for Turba,” McGrew said.
In the second round of consolation, Christian Jensen of Lewis Central beat Timmerman, 6-4, 6-2. Timmerman needed to win this match to play for fifth through eighth place on the next day.
“Jensen was a hot player coming into state with a Hawkeye Ten Conference championship in number one singles, a lopsided district final win over an excellent player from Storm Lake, and a 6-1, 6-0 win over Tyler Harger of Glenwood in a sub-state team playoff,” McGrew said. “He opened state with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Clevi Johnson of Atlantic before losing to one of the two Moon brothers of North Polk, Easton Moon, in the quarterfinals. Easton and Ethan Moon are considered two of the best players in 1A along with Branum and Xavier’s Charlie LeGrand. All four players made the semifinals as expected. Jensen played really well, so I give him full credit for a great win, but I did feel Evan was struggling for energy in the second set. I think the match with Neymeyer really took a lot out of him.”
Neymeyer also felt the effects of his opener with Timmerman as he needed two medical timeouts in his second round consolation loss to Cody Overland of Boone.
“The second one cost him a point,” McGrew said. “He cramped up at times and simply looked spent. Again, I hate to make excuses for either guy, but the physicality of that opening round match understandably took its toll on both players.”
McGrew said Timmerman had a great season.
“He really is a special player, who has a lot of tools,” McGrew said “I am proud of him and appreciative of all the off season work he has put in on his own time. This was a great learning experience for him, but also helpful for me as a head coach. There were a few things that I felt he can improve on based on what I witnessed in this event. He dominated a number of his matches in the regular season and you don’t always learn as much from those as you do at a venue like state.”
McGrew said he appreciated the efforts of his assistants at the state event, Andy Timmerman and Brent Mullen. “They were very positive and supportive toward Evan just as they have been with all players,” McGrew said.
McGrew called another volunteer assistant, Micayla Taylor, an unsung hero.
“She helped at a lot of practices and a number of meets this season,” McGrew said. “It meant a lot.”