116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For the Cedar Rapids Washington girls’ tennis team, Saturday's Class 2A state quarterfinal match with Pleasant Valley is a chance for redemption.
The Warriors reached this point last season, but dropped a 5-3 decision to eventual state runner-up Cedar Falls. On Saturday, the Warriors (16-1), ranked No. 4, will meet No. 6 Pleasant Valley (31-1) beginning at 9 a.m. at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center in Iowa City.
Many of those who played for Washington last season are back and are hungry to advance to the semifinals on June 1 at Waukee Northwest High School.
“Making the final four would mean a lot for the girls,” said Washington Coach Brandon Hornback. “Last year we lost a close match in the quarterfinals. Making it through to the final four this time would be huge.”
Getting there will be no easy task. The Spartans are on a 31-match winning streak, their lone loss coming in the season opener to No. 2 West Des Moines Valley.
“PV is a strong team and they have a very good record this year,” Hornback said. “We should have a lot of good matches and it should be a close meet.”
The Warriors are strong at the top of their lineup. Junior Kathryn Zylstra and sophomore Katelynn Kock, who were awarded the No. 2 seed for next weekend's state doubles tournament, also are strong singles players. Sophomore Mya Messenger and the doubles team of senior Liberty Wickham and junior Chloe Palmer also made the state meet.
Hornback knows those accomplishments mean little in the team setting.
“It will be important for us to win at the top and fill in the rest where we can,” he said. “The good news is we have a deep team and we can win at any position.
“All of the girls know they’ve got a job to do and when they step on court they all want to be the one to contribute a point for the team.”
In Class 1A, top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier (17-1) will meet No. 8 Clarinda (13-0) at Saydel. The only loss for the defending state champion Saints came against Washington. Coach Matt Foxhoven's team is centered on seniors Courtney Carstensen and Ally Burger.
The defending state doubles champs were named the top seed for the doubles state tournament while teammate Ella Tallett is seeded No. 3 in singles.
“It's less nerve-racking going in with experience,” Burger said, “but there is more pressure knowing there are high expectations.”
Decorah (16-3) also is in action in a regional final Saturday, hosting Aplington-Parkersburg (10-1). That winner will meet the Waterloo Columbus-Boone winner on Monday in a state quarterfinal match-up at Independence.