Prep Sports

Girls' state tennis: Emma and Audrey Koch of Iowa City West claim 2A doubles championship

IOWA CITY — Sometimes when you are a talented athlete, you have to be reminded of that fact.

Such was the case for Iowa City West’s sister combo of Emma and Audrey Koch as they played their Class 2A state championship match Thursday against Anna Wanek and Kaylyn Chleborad of West Des Moines Dowling.

“It is easy to fall into the other players’ level of play,” Iowa City West Coach Amie Villarni said. “I told them they had to rise up and play your game, like you like to play.”

The Kochs struggled to gain control of the net in a tight first set that they eventually won. Then they got a visit from their coach.

It was a different story in the second set as the sisters used their length and athletic ability to regain control of the net to finish off a 6-4, 6-1 victory at the Hawkeye Recreation and Tennis Center. They advanced to the final with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Ames’ Caitlyn Hanulikova and Chloe Wilson earlier on Thursday.

“We had never played them before,” Emma Koch said of their opponents in the final. “That was part of it, figuring out how they played and I think a little bit of it was nerves, too.”

Wanek and Chleborad were aggressive in opening set, basically playing the same style as the Kochs by attacking the net. They had several chances to even the match at 5-5 before the Koch sisters pulled out the first set.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We had never played anybody with that style of having two people up at the net,” said Audrey Koch. “We had to figure out how to play and react to that.”

Villarini thought Audrey Koch was a little tentative in the first set.

“I told her that she had to remind herself ‘that you love the net’,” Villarini said. “Then she came out (in the second set) and started making her volleys.

The second set was a quick exercise in net play. The Kochs unleashed a number of powerful winning volleys at the net and took just over 20 minutes to complete the win.

It was the second straight state title for Emma Koch, who as a sophomore, combined with Abby Jans to win the crown in 2017.

Both sisters, who also won a 5A state championship together as members of West’s basketball team this past winter, know how special it is to win a title with a sibling as a teammate.

“It’s really a one of a kind feeling,” Emma Koch said. “Not many people get an opportunity to win a state championship with their sister and we are really lucky that we got that chance.”

“It’s super cool to win a state championship as a freshman, especially playing with my sister,” Audrey Koch said. “That’s just a whole other cool thing.”

The Cedar Rapids Kennedy team of Shelby Cook and Veena Venkaesh dropped both of their consolation matches to finish eighth.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

No. 3 seed Cari Naanep of Johnston upset top seed Davi Patterson of Boone, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, to win the singles title. Bihotza James-Lejarcegui of Iowa City High finished sixth and Jessica Moonjely of Iowa City West finished eighth.

In Class 1A play at Waterloo, Nina Marquardt and Emily Jasper of Cedar Rapids Xavier finished fourth, losing, 6-1, 6-0, to eventual state champions Olivia Fain and Taylor Hoganin of Waterloo Columbus in the semifinals. They dropped a 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6) decision to Madi Overmann and Katie Wichman of Waverly-Shell Rock in the third-place match.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.