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Boys’ tennis notes: Kennedy’s Parker Sprague getting better and better
Cougar senior unbeaten and aiming for another trip to state tennis tournament
The early-season cold and wind has done nothing to deter Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior Parker Sprague.
In his fourth year as the Cougars’ No. 1 singles player, Sprague is off to an impressive 4-0 start entering Thursday's home dual against Cedar Rapids Prairie. He has yet to drop a set and owns a 6-3, 6-2 win over Linn-Mar's Ayush Kalia.
Sprague made his mark as a freshman in 2019, qualifying for the state tournament. After seeing the 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19, Sprague was back in the state tournament in 2021. Now as a senior, Sprague appears primed to finish his prep career on a high note.
“He has progressed in his style of play,” said Kennedy Coach Craig Bova, “going from a player who would try to beat an opponent from the baseline to being the kind of player who uses all of his stroke repertoire in order to win.”
Bova said Sprague's ability to read an opponent is key to his success.
“Some of Parker's best traits are his ability to analyze an opponent and make adjustments, knowing when to attack and when to set up the opponent,” Bova said, “and his use of strategic strokes to put himself in a winning position.”
Sprague has committed to play collegiate tennis at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
No. 1 Iowa City West reloads
Even with the loss of two of its top three players from last season, Iowa City West has not slowed down.
The state's top-ranked team in Class 2A is 6-0 through Monday and has not dropped a match in singles or doubles. Senior Luca Chackalackal has been strong at No. 1 singles. The Trojans have a gem at No. 2 in freshman Seth Smigel, who has dropped only three games in the six match wins.
First-year coach Marshal Moellers also has received outstanding play from junior Jayden Shin at No. 3, sophomore Samir Singh at No. 4, junior Jonathan Fan at No. 5 and junior Shivy Mannengi at No. 6.
West's top tests the rest of the season likely will come from No. 5 Linn-Mar at home next Tuesday and a road test on May 3 against Class 1A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier.
District sites announced
The IHSAA has released district tournament sites for the meets on May 9.
In Class 2A, Iowa City West and Iowa City Liberty are two of the eight hosts. Decorah is the only Gazette-area school to be named a 1A host.
District assignments and substate team sites will be announced on April 27.
The state singles and doubles tournament will be held on May 24-25. Class 2A will be at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids with 1A set for Byrnes Park in Waterloo.
State team semifinals and finals will be on May 31. Class 2A will be at Prairie Ridge Sports Complex in Ankeny with 1A set for Waveland Tennis Courts in Des Moines.