116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Mitch Gross knows a thing or two about good tennis.
He also gives credit where credit is due.
The veteran Iowa City West coach watched his duo of Mukundan Kasturirangan and Luca Chackalackal battle and fight for each point, but it wasn't enough in Saturday's Class 2A doubles final against Waukee's Kaden Taylor and Quinn Monson.
Waukee's freshman duo kept the West tandem off balance for most of the match, en route to a 6-3, 6-3 victory in the Class 2A doubles final on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center.
“I thought they were simply more aggressive from the get-go,” Gross said. “We didn't play our best today and that is unfortunate but that is sports and you deal with it.”
Both Taylor and Monson (16-1) used deep, spinning serves to keep both Kasturirangan and Chackalackal guessing, which led to some uncharacteristic poor shots.
“They had good spin on their serves,” Kasturirangan said. "We can return better, but we just didn't today. Props to them.”
The loss was the first for the West duo in 21 matches this season.
Despite the loss, Chackalackal believes he and Kasturirangan have continued to progress as a team. They played together in 2019, then missed out on last season due to COVID-19.
“I think we are definitely playing a lot better tennis than we did in the past,” he said. “I mean, we are so much better fundamentally. Gross and (assistant coach Marshal) Moeller are great coaches. They are always pushing us to be a lot better.”
West ended up with all six varsity players placing. Senior Eli Young finished fifth in singles, downing teammate Jayden Shin 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 in the consolation final. The Trojans’ second doubles team of Samir Singh and BJ Wolf downed Neel Shah and Pranav Chandra of Cedar Falls, 6-0, 6-0, in the seventh-place match.
“When you look at it to get second and seventh in doubles and fifth and sixth in singles is good," Gross said. ”When you look at it that way, it is a good weekend.“
It was also a good weekend for Cedar Rapids Washington senior Grayson Zylstra. He won two matches on Friday to make the semifinals, but lost to West Des Moines Dowling's Daniel Lu, 6-1, 6-0 then dropped a very competitive consolation match to top seed Will Ecklund of Waukee, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).
“I played some great players and maybe I didn't play my greatest today, but I was happy with the way I competed,” said Zylstra, who will play collegiately at DePauw University in Indiana next year. ”I started putting in a ton of work to get ready for this season to be as prepared as I could be and I think it showed as the season went along.“