It was a day of double disappointment for Kennedy senior Riley Galbraith on Saturday.
His dream of capturing the Class 2A high school boys state tennis championship was dashed by a longtime nemesis from Des Moines. And, at almost the very same time, the Cougar soccer team he’s starred on for the past four years fell 2-0 at the substate finals in Coralville to Iowa City West.
In one afternoon, his stellar two-sport high school career ended with two heart-breaking losses.
“I wish things could have been better,” Galbraith said after collecting his runnerup tennis trophy. “But, really, there was nothing I could do about it.”
He couldn’t change the soccer score since he wasn’t there. And, as it turned out, there wasn’t much he could do differently on the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center courts either as old foe Naveen Nath of Des Moines Roosevelt played flawlessly in a 6-4 6-1 state final victory.
From the time Nath beat him in a three-set classic battle in the tournament semifinal a year ago, Galbraith had set his sights on coming back to claim the title.
The stage was set as the tourney’s undefeated top seeds won their first three matches over two days to face off in a rematch. On a hot and windy day (in contrast to the rain that disrupted play on Friday), it was a back-and-forth match at the start as the two premier prep singles players in the state held serve and made few unforced mistakes.
But with a 5-4 lead, the lanky left-handed Nath broke service to take the first set. “It was really important to buckle down at the end of that first set and give 110 percent,” Nath said. “It had been very tight, but winning that set gave me some momentum.”
He went up 2-0 to begin the second set. And while Galbraith bounced back to break Nath’s serve in the third game, the Duke-bound Roosevelt Rough Rider hardly missed a shot from then on and coasted to four straight games to finish the match.
It left him with a perfect 17-0 singles record this year, while Galbraith finished 24-1 (and 76-7 for his career). Both are regulars on the summer tennis circuit, and Nath said their matches are always close.
“I think Riley might have worn down a bit today,” he said. “Always, he has the advantage of being faster and able to last longer. But my fitness held up today.”
Galbraith, who credits soccer training for boosting his endurance, said he didn’t feel tired. “He just played great today. I have no excuses.”
In victory, the state champion (who was third in singles two years ago and second last year) was complimentary of his vanquished opponent.
“He’s a great player and a great competitor,” Nath said. “It’s playing against him and some other great competition in Iowa that have led to my improvement.”
For his part, Galbraith graduated from Kennedy Thursday night and is headed to Coe College this summer where he’ll play tennis and perhaps soccer, too.
“It’s been a great four years,” he said on his final day in a Cougar uniform. “Honestly, I’ve had the time of my life.”
CLASS 2A BOYS STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT
At Veterans Memorial Tennis Center
Naveen Nath (DM Roosevelt) def. Alex Huang (Ames), 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Riley Galbraith (CR Kennedy) def. Will Hemminger (DM Roosevelt), 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Ryan Peterson (WDM Valley0 def. Anders Jensen (WDM Valley), 6-1, 6-4
Blake Oetting (IC West) def. Roy Ju (Cedar Falls), 6-2, 6-0
Ju (Cedar Falls) def. Jensen (WDM Valley), 6-1, 6-4
Oetting (IC West) def. Peterson (WDM Valley), 6-2, 6-0
Hemminger (DM Roosevelt) def. Huang (Ames), 6-1, 6-4
Nath (DM Roosevelt) def. Galbraith (CR Kennedy), 6-4, 6-1
Qin/Pitcher (Ames) def. Appel/Dellos (IC West), 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
Song/Wang (Ames) def. Boldt/Wenzel (IC West), 6-2, 6-4
Anderson/Ty.McCann (Linn-Mar) def. Maigaard/McCoy (WDM Valley), 6-0, 6-1
Schumacher/Schroeder (Clinton) def. Petersen/Benna (Ankeny), 6-3, 6-2
Maigaard/McCoy (WDM Valley) def. Petersen/Benna (Ankeny), 7-6(6), 7-6(8)
Anderson/Ty.McCann (Linn-Mar) def. Schumacher/Schroeder (Clinton), 6-3, 6-4
Appel/Dellos (IC West) def.. Boldt/Wenzel (IC West), 6-1, 3-6, 1(4)
Qin/Pitcher (Ames) def. Song/Wang (Ames), 7-6(5), 6-1
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