Boys tennis: Luo, Trojans continue march to state

May 14—FAIRFIELD — Micheal Holt met Ruimin Luo for the first time earlier this year prior to the start of the high school tennis season.

It didn't long for Luo to make his intentions known to the Fairfield head boys tennis coach.

"I picked him up for practice and the first thing he said when he got in the car was 'Hey Coach. I'm Ruimin. I want to go to state,'" Holt said. "I told him we might be able to work that out."

Two months later, Luo achieved his season-long goal. The Fairfield junior swept through the Class 1A district singles tournament, clinching his first trip to state with a 6-3, 6-0 semifinal win over Cedar Rapids Xavier junior Bradley Johnson before winning his first district championship with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Xavier freshman Bennett Link.

"It feels unbelievable. I've been knocked out in the semifinals by a Xavier player each of the past two years," Luo said. "I came back, had to battle through some pain, but I was able to get through a tough semifinal and had to dig down to find even more to get the final win."

Luo not only had to deal with a pair of players from the powerhouse program of Cedar Rapids Xaiver in the final two rounds of the district singles tournament, but a scorching sun that provided more physical hurdles for the Fairfield junior. Besides the heat and humidity, Luo also struggled at times to see the ball using his instincts to keep himself on serve at times in the final rounds.

"My eyes were getting flashes every time I went to serve," Luo said. "I'm just happy I got through it. I tried to focus on each point one at a time. I got too far ahead of myself last year and got too worried about the future outcome. I'm just trying to stay present in the moment against whoever I'm playing. I'm just glad it worked out this year."

Luo helped the Trojans maintain a perfect dual record on Saturday as Class 1A substate tournament play began. After scoring a pair of wins in singles play, Luo teamed up with Ethan Cass to secure the final win in the substate semifinals over Mount Pleasant winning 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 over Gavin Ross and Zach Johnson in the No. 2 doubles match.

"I've been wanting to play doubles all season with Ruimin. He's definitely the big man out here," Cass said. "He's a great teammate and great person as a whole. I enjoy having him as a teammate and a partner. We had a lot of fun."

Fairfield will carry an 11-0 record into Wednesday afternoon's substate finals. The Trojans will once again go up against Cedar Rapids Xavier in postseason action, facing the Saints in Cedar Rapids for the 1A, Substate 5 title at 3:30 p.m.

Fairfield and Xavier went head to head five times in the 1A district singles and doubles tournament last Wednesday. While Luo won his two matches against the Saints, the Trojans went 2-3 overall ahead Xavier including quarterfinal-round wins in the doubles tournament while sending five players on to compete in state singles and doubles next Tuesday at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.

"The boys are out here all day. I'm the one that usually has to tell them they have to go, or they'd stay out here and play all night," Holt said. "They love tennis. They love each other. It's been easy to coach these guys. I think we'd like another chance at them. I bet they'd love another shot at us. I think they expected to come down here and take it all by securing every state tournament berth, but we stepped in the way just a little bit."