116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Sarah Abu-Nameh had options for the spring sports season.
The Cedar Rapids Xavier freshman mulled opportunities with the girls' soccer team, but ultimately decided to pick up a tennis racquet and join older sister Maddie on the Saints' girls' tennis team.
'It was hard to start with,' said Abu-Nameh, who will be one of six area players making their debut Thursday at the girls' tennis individual state tournament. 'It was a tough decision, but I'm really glad I chose tennis and I feel like I've improved a lot throughout the season.'
The Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex in Iowa City will host Abu-Nameh and the rest of the Class 1A field, while the 2A participants will compete in Ankeny.
Abu-Nameh — winner of 11 of 15 singles matches this season at three different lineup spots for the Saints — will open the state tournament against Decorah senior Kally Peterson, who finished fourth at the 1A state singles meet last season.
'Just focus and mental,' Abu-Nameh said when asked about the needed qualities for state success. 'You've got to want it more.'
A pair of area doubles teams feature a returning state qualifier paired alongside a state rookie.
Decorah senior Anna Spencer placed seventh last year in 1A state doubles and returns this season with a new playing partner, junior Carina Yee. Spencer and Yee won 15 matches this season.
Iowa City High graduated one senior from each of its two state-qualifying doubles teams from last season. While senior Lucy Wagner returns to the doubles bracket, she is teamed with an experienced upperclassman in senior Amelia Prybil, who lacks only state-tournament experience.
'When I first thought about it, I knew I lost two girls, but I didn't know they were my top two,' City High Coach Fred Pedersen said. 'Coming in and filling that spot up, we've had a fairly good season. … I think it's just a maturing factor for the older girls.'
Wagner and Prybil open the 2A doubles bracket against No. 2 seed Anna Rose Corell and Anna Wanek of West Des Moines Dowling, while the Linn-Mar doubles team of junior Whitney Guthrie and sophomore Piper Boysen will both make their state debut against the top-seeded doubles team from Urbandale, Abby Reis and Jackie Kaiser.
'She's just really consistent,' Linn-Mar Coach Stacie Carpenter said of Guthrie. 'She gets everything back and also she just moves well for doubles. That is just something that she has.'
Iowa City West sophomore Kaily Speer brings an 18-4 record into her first-round state singles matchup with Sofia Sackett of Dowling.
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