WATERLOO — Third time was the charm for Pella as the Dutch send a different doubles to the state finals for a third straight year, but this time, that doubles team reached the mountain top in dominating fashion on their way to a state title.

Wednesday marked day two of the Class 1A Boys State Individual Tennis Tournament up at Byrnes Park in Waterloo. Pella qualified all six starters for the tournament but only the doubles team of Jack Briggs and Joshua Roozeboom remained on day two.

The junior duo earned the top seed in the doubles bracket and had picked day one wins of 6-0, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-1 to advance into Wednesday’s semifinals.

Meanwhile, Pella’s other doubles team of Cameron Rowe and Cashen Thompson fell to No. 2 seed Curtiss/Martineau of Dubuque Wahlert 6-2, 6-1 before falling to Boone’s Jordan/Judge 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of consolations to be eliminated. It was similar results in singles play as Pella’s Ben Van Gorp fell to Schmit of Xavier 6-1, 6-1. He then was eliminated by Lawrence of Shenandoah in a 7-5, 6-1 match. Beau Bush went up against the No. 3 and eventual runner-up of LeGrand from Xavier in his first round matchup as he would fall 6-0, 6-1 before seeing his tournament ended by Reicks of Kuemper in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat.

So it was up to Briggs/Roozeboom to carry on the Pella flag on Wednesday as they entered a semifinal matchup against Myers/Ramker of Waverly-Shell Rock. The Dutch duo looked sharp in the morning match, fighting off a good deuce in the third game as that proved to be their biggest challenge in what ended being a 6-0, 6-0 victory to advance them to the state finals.

It was the third straight year that Pella had a doubles team in the finals and it was the third different pairing. Jack Edwards and Vaughn Thompson fell in the finals in 2021 while the brother duo of Caleb Briggs and Jack Briggs reached the final last year before falling and taking second. Jack Briggs returned to the fold with his brother graduating and he needed a new doubles partner. The good news is he had to look no farther than his long-time next door neighbor and friend in Roozeboom.

The two both had their fair share of injuries this year with Roozeboom fighting a bum knee early in the season that forced him to miss a couple of matches while most recently Briggs has been battling with an injured heel.

Those 16 years as neighbors, offseason workouts and battling through injuries led to their moment and their chance to be crowned state champions. The Dutch duo would face off against No. 3 Baker/Skrade of Decorah in the finals and despite some nerves, Briggs/Roozeboom continued to play like they had over the past two days.

A handful of aces and some excellent shot-making got the two and the Pella supporters excited as they cruised through the first four games before winning a very hard-fought fifth game deuce on their fourth game point. They would surrender the following game that featured another deuce before closing out the first set, 6-1.

The momentum continued and never stopped with spicy shots down the line and a beautiful Roozeboom lob highlighting some of the big points in the second set. But there was no slowing down the inevitable as Briggs and Roozeboom finished off the 6-0, 6-1 victory and embraced in a celebration years in the making as state champs.

“It's just really exciting for us because we've worked so hard and we've always seemed to get runner-up,” Roozeboom said. “It kind of always hits us in the gut every time but it feels really good to finally come out on top. We played amazing our last match, we're really happy with how we played and we're just super excited overall to win it.”

You never if you’ll get second chances in sports. But after losing in the finals with his brother last year, Jack Briggs used it as motivation to make sure he would be back.

“Just remembering how heartbroken I was after me and my brother just fell a little short last year,” Briggs said. “It was just the driving force in my work ethic this offseason. I just kept working hard because I knew that me and Josh were going to be back in that same spot and we were going to get it done this time around.”

Get it done they did. The two had a dominating regular season with Pella and that bled over to the state tournament as they surrendered just three games on their way to the title. While the two are very talented tennis players in their own right, they credit something other than their skills as the key to their success.

“I think our biggest weapon would be chemistry,” Roozeboom. “We've grown up together, we were next door neighbors for 16 years of our lives. I think our chemistry is amazing and we know each other heart to heart. We know what gets us angry and we know what calms us down. I think that's our biggest weapon.”

Both boys are youngest of very successful tennis families. Joshua saw older brother Jamison Roozeboom take third place in doubles in 2014, sister Lily Roozeboom was a three-time state qualifier and Jordan Roozeboom was a two-time state qualifier. For Jack, older brother Carter Briggs was a state qualifier in doubles and Caleb Briggs was a two-time state qualifier and runner-up in doubles last year.

But it ends being the youngest brothers having the bragging rights as state champions as it’s been many years in the making with a lot of people involved.

“A lot of people put in a lot of things to get them here,” Brandt said. “Seven years ago, Josh’s older brother made it and ended up getting third. They got to see that and you never know what sparks them when they saw that if they start working. We got a little closer with Jack [Edwards] and Vaughn [Thompson] and they didn't quite pull it out. And then Jack and Caleb [Briggs] were so close last year. It's just been a constant upward climb of a lot of people doing a lot of things together that culminated in two players winning on the court. But a lot of people were involved and so that's been really fulfilling to have.”

For two friends that have been through a lot with each other from the days of trick or treating and playing with shaving cream with their buddy from next door, it’s another special memory for the Briggs and Roozeboom families.

“Who knows if playing with shaving cream when they were five had anything to do with them winning but it's just a special journey,” Brandt laughed. “You assume brothers have a good relationship, and that was special last year for sure, but this is just more serendipitous. They didn't have to become friends, they just were friends. So having this accomplishment was really special for them.”

Briggs and Roozeboom and both only juniors and will certainly be favorites to defend their title next year, but there is still one more mountain to climb this season as the Pella team enters the state quarterfinals next week. The Dutch have had three straight runner-up finishes to Xavier in the state team race but this year Pella, who qualified all six starters for individual state, enter as the No. 1 seed with another potential showdown with No. 2 Xavier. With the good fortunes of Wednesday, the Dutch are hoping the same will follow next week with a championship trophy.

“We had all of our guys here we were able to see a lot of other good teams and see what they had to offer,” Briggs said. “We think we can pull through this year. We’re going to have another week of hard work at practice and we're just going to bind together as one and try to get the wins that we can.”

No. 1 Pella faces No. 8 Ballard in the quarterfinals on Wednesday May 31 at 9 p.m. at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center in Iowa City. If they win, they will face the winner of No. 4 Wahlert and No. 5 Spencer in the semifinals later that day with the finals set for the following day.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

Trending Video

Recommended for you