Lawrence High junior Chris Werholtz hardly had time to bask in the glow of a state championship.
Twelve days after helping LHS to its first state title in boys tennis, Werholtz had his right foot placed in a cast. The injury likely happened in the pivotal second set of the state championship doubles match at Washburn Rural in Topeka.
Werholtz played with a stress fracture for more than half the three-set match. Werholtz teamed with senior Matt Heffner to rally for a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory over Topeka West's No. 1 tandem.
LHS coach Dick Wedel believes Werholtz initially injured the foot before state three weeks ago. Werholtz had complained of soreness a week prior to the season-ending meet.
"Every time we would go do line drills," Wedel said, "he'd say his foot hurts, and I'd say, 'That's because you're not in shape. '"
Responding to Wedel's allegations, Werholtz said, "I am out of shape ... I'm always out of shape."
Wedel didn't mention the injury during the state meet because he wasn't going to make excuses with his doubles team down one set and losing, 5-2, in the second set, when Werholtz aggravated the injury.
"I hit an overhead and I came down on it and felt a sharp pain," Werholtz said. "I told Matt when we changed over that my foot hurt. I was pumping Tylenol to help ease the pain and I told myself I wasn't going to concentrate on it."
Because of rain, the third set was moved indoors to Wood Valley Racquet Club. On the way to the club, Werholtz took off his shoe and noticed his foot throbbing.
Realizing momentum had shifted their way, Heffner and Werholtz, oblivious to the pain, dominated the third set.
Ironically, shoulder injuries to both players contributed to Wedel's decision to team them at doubles in the first place.
"One of the reasons we decided to play them at doubles was because they'd only have to serve half as much," Wedel said.
Werholtz has had his foot in the cast since June 1. The foot will be X-rayed on Friday and reevaluated.
"Right now it doesn't hurt that bad," Werholtz said. "I'm walking on it right now, which is probably not too smart. Crutches are not my thing."
Despite the injury, Werholtz has been able to work as a bus boy at FiFi's restaurant.
"That's pretty important for me," he said. "I'm trying to get as many hours as I can. I'm trying to get money for college."
Werholtz hopes to continue playing tennis in college like the other two on the state team. Heffner will play at Trinity University in San Antonio, and singles player Tyler Epp will play at Davidson in North Carolina.
"At the end of summer, I'm going to start training and try to lose weight," he said. "I'm going to start swimming when I get the cast off."
Once the cast is removed, Werholtz will try to salvage it. Friends painted "State Champs" on the cast, and he plans to give it to Wedel.
The netters are always thinking of their coach. They shaved Wedel's head moments after winning state.