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Cedar Rapids Washington defending girls’ state tennis doubles champs motivated by regular-season loss
Cedar Falls team received the top seed for this year’s state tournament
CEDAR RAPIDS — They are the defending state Class 2A doubles champions and have had a stellar season.
So it would be reasonable to assume Cedar Rapids Washington’s Katelynn Kock and Kathryn Zylstra would have the No. 1 seed entering this weekend's state tournament.
Although Kock and Zylstra compiled an impressive record, the one blemish on their season came on May 2 in a dual meet with Cedar Falls when they dropped a 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 10-7 decision to the Tiger duo of Maya Mallavarapu and Madison Sagers. So when the state seedings came out, the Cedar Falls pair got the top seed.
“Oh, it has been a motivation for them,” said Washington Coach Nina Marquardt. “This is their last run together and they want to come out on top.”
Kock and Zylstra's quest to defend their 2A title begins Friday at 10 a.m. at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center on the University of Iowa campus. The 1A tournament is being held at Byrnes Park in Waterloo.
Kock, a junior, said the loss to Mallavarapu and Sagers was a sign to her and Zylstra that the road to a repeat was not just a given.
“Obviously, that was a very tough loss for us,” she said. “It was kind of a wake-up call. It gave us more motivation than ever. I think if we would have won that match, we would have gone into practice thinking we could just win.
“Now we have those doubts in our minds pushing us even further on the court to improve.”
The two teams have a history of close matches. They played in the team tournament last year with the Wash pair winning, 7-6, 7-5.
“Maya and Maddie have been playing tennis for a long time,” Kock said. “I've seen them in tournaments since I was 12 and they know their way around the court. They have a pretty solid mental game.”
Ironically, Kock and Zylstra won the 2022 title as the No. 2 seed as well, knocking off West Des Moines Dowling’s Mackenkie Klein and Ava Petersen, 7-6, 7-5 in the final.
Zylstra and Kock have played together for three seasons. Zylstra’s career will end after next week's team tournament. She has elected not to play collegiately. She is looking forward to her last couple of events with Kock.
“I'm sure the emotions will be running pretty high for me once state gets here,” she said. “I'm honestly going in with the attitude of trying to enjoy every moment.”
Kock and Zylstra were to be joined in the 2A doubles field by teammates Mya Messenger and Lily Belle Barker, but they had to withdraw. Both also are members of the Warriors golf team, which is playing at state on during the same time frame.
The duo has been replaced by Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Allie Barlow and Olivia Young, the third-place finisher in regional play. Other area doubles teams in the field are Sasha Postinkov and Maggie Shin of Iowa City West along with Linn-Mar’s Kara Kueper and Lauren Steigerwaldt.
⧉ Related article: State golf or state tennis? These Cedar Rapids Washington athletes had to make a tough choice
Both Iowa City West and Jefferson will have two players in the 2A singles draw. Julianna Mescardo and Mohana Sunkara will represent the Trojans. Lily Holland and Lily Schreckengast are the J-Hawk entrants.
In Class 1A, Xavier’s Avery Link is the No. 3 singles seed. Teammate Ali Schuchmann also is in the singles draw as is Decorah’s Evon Leitz.
Leitz’s teammates, Hayley Gossmann and Annaliese Skrade, are the No. 3 doubles seed while Marion's Michaela Goad and Natalee Hartman are seeded fourth. Xavier’s Ruby Smith and Isabel Tobin also are in the draw.
Play begins on Friday at 10 a.m. at both sites. Consolation play Saturday starts at 9:30 a.m. with semifinals at 10 a.m. and finals at 12:30 p.m.