Prep Sports

Iowa high school girls' tennis hits postseason on Saturday

But Iowa City West finally gets a first-round bye

Iowa City West’s Emma Koch hits the ball during the 2016 girls’ state tennis tournament. West begins its quest for a state title May 19. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Emma Koch hits the ball during the 2016 girls’ state tennis tournament. West begins its quest for a state title May 19. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Amie Villarini had to “put her foot down” this year.

Even though her Iowa City West girls’ tennis team has been one of the top programs in the state during her tenure, its never received a bye in the opening round of a regional team tournament.

The reason?

“We’ve always volunteered to host the regionals,” she said. “Because of that, we’ve always played in the first round. I guess they don’t have enough teams interested in hosting.

“I let them know that we have never had a bye before they announced the pairings. We did get a bye this year.”

Although there are no official state rankings for girls’ tennis, there is little doubt West is among the state’s elite. Postseason play begins throughout the state on Saturday with first-round matches in the team competition.

Regional singles and doubles tournaments are scheduled for Wednesday.

The Women of Troy are 14-0 entering the postseason. Sisters Emma and Audrey Koch are undefeated in singles, as are sophomore Jessica Moonjely and freshman Caroline Chandler. Junior Vivian Mitchell has lost just once. In doubles, the Koch sisters and the team of Moonjely and Mitchell are undefeated.

“We’ve had a very good season,” Villarini said. “I really like our chances to do well in the postseason.”

With its bye, West won’t begin team competition until May 19, hosting the winner of Saturday’s first-round match between Davenport rivals North and Central. West finished third at state last year, losing a 5-4 decision to West Des Moines Dowling in the semifinals before downing Ames in the consolation match. West, defending state champion Pleasant Valley, Ames and Urbandale are among the favorites in the team race.

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Among Metro schools, Jefferson plays at Prairie on Saturday with the winner moving on to meet Dubuque Hempstead on May 19 at Prairie. Kennedy, Linn-Mar and Washington all received byes and play on May 19.

On Wednesday, the Women of Troy host a six-team regional in the singles and doubles tournament. Cedar Rapids Jefferson, led by senior Maddie Slagle, and City High, featuring senior Bihotza James-Lejarcegui, also are in the regional. Two singles players and two doubles teams from each school will participate with winners and runners-up qualifying for state.

Entries were due to the state this week, but Villarini said the actual participants in each draw aren’t released until the coaches meet before the beginning of each meet.

“I feel real good about where we placed our players,” she said. “The goal is to always put the players in the best position to make state and place as highly as possible at state.”

Kennedy and Washington will be part of a regional at Waterloo West. Prairie has been assigned to the Bettendorf regional while Linn-Mar will play at Clinton.

The Class 2A state meet will be held at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex, right across the street from the West campus.

In Class 1A, Xavier will host team and individual regional action. On Saturday, the Saints (13-2), led by senior Nina Marquardt, play Oelwein and Marion meets Union, both starting at 9 a.m. The winners meet at noon. Xavier’s only dual losses this year have been to West and a 5-4 setback to defending 1A state champion Waterloo Columbus.

On Wednesday, Marion is part of the field again at Xavier for the singles and doubles competition.

Byrnes Park in Waterloo will host the 1A state meet.

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