CEDAR RAPIDS — Nick Mozena wasn’t in the mood for sympathy.
Not with the semifinals in sight.
Mozena, a senior from Dubuque Senior, blew a 5-2 second-set lead in the quarterfinals, then outlasted a cramp-wracked Joey White of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in Friday’s biggest upset at the Class 2A boys’ tennis tournament at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center.
White had defeated Mozena twice in the regular season and was seeded second.
“It’s hard to focus on your own game in a situation like that,” Mozena said. “You think you’ve got him down, then you see him come back and start winning games.”
White battled leg cramps throughout the match. He was forced to take a medical timeout at the beginning of the third set. That was after he rallied furiously, winning five straight games to extend the match. White had his legs massaged, then tried to hydrate himself with pickle juice.
Mozena jumped to a 4-1 lead in the final set, then held on.
“I’ve worked really, really hard the last couple of weeks,” Mozena said. “I really wanted to win. We’ve been playing against each other since we were 12. We’re both fiery people.
“On the court, we’re not friends. We’re acquaintances, definitely.”
Other than the Mozena-White match, the tournament went pretty much to form. Top singles seed Charlie Caris of Des Moines Roosevelt, who is bidding to become only the third three-time champion in state history, stormed through his first two matches without allowing a game.
Caris, unbeaten in 52 matches the last three seasons, will face David Knight of Fort Dodge in the semifinals. Mozena takes on Elliott Baker of West Des Moines Dowling.
Semifinal matches are 10 a.m. Saturday. The finals are at 2 p.m.
Friday’s top doubles match lasted nearly two hours — Ankeny’s Austin Wiser and Curtis Newman beat Des Moines Roosevelt’s Neel Nath and Naveen Nath, 7-5, 6-7 (10-12), 6-4.
The Roosevelt pair rallied from a big deficit in the tie-breaker, then cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-4 in the final set before the Hawks closed it out.
“It was like, ‘Could we choke it off any more?’ ” Newman said. “After the tie-breaker, our coach said we weren’t allowed back on the court until we were in the frame of mind that we could win the next set.”
They’ll play top-seeded David DeSimone and Kyle Johnson of Bettendorf in the semifinals. In the other semi, Kennedy’s Eric Allebach and Ivan Liao face Roosevelt’s Harrison Kruse and Will Hemminger.
Allebach and Liao got straight-sets wins in their two matches Friday.
“Our volleys were going pretty well, and we were serving well,” Allebach said.