116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — When this tennis season started, Kathryn Zylstra and Katelynn Kock had never played a point of high school tennis.
The COVID-19 pandemic denied Zylstra her freshman campaign at Cedar Rapids Washington while Kock was still in eighth grade. They may have started the season as a bit of an unknown commodity, but they ended it looking like one of the best doubles teams in Class 2A.
After dropping a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 decision to West Des Moines Dowling's Ava Petersen and Mackenzie Klein in the semifinals, the Warrior team was dominant in the consolation final, downing Iowa City West's sister duo of Caroline and Julianna Mascardo, 6-2, 6-1 at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center.
As they walked off the court and were greeted by Washington Coach Brandon Hornback, the players got a simple message.
"Hey, third in the state, that is something to be proud of," he said. "That is quite an accomplishment."
Zylstra was pleased with the way the duo responded after the tough semifinal loss.
"I'm glad we were able to turn it around after our last match," she said. "We were down after losing a close match but we got excited again and played well."
Kock said there was a focus on the basics in the consolation win.
"We tried to keep it as simple as possible," she said. "We just tried to make our shots and hit our targets and I think we did that pretty well."
The Warriors finished 14-4 in duals this year and had just one senior in the top six.
"We have a lot of good players coming back next year," Zylstra said. "Our whole team this year was excited to put Wash tennis back on the map."
Oh, there is little doubt Zylstra and Kock will be a force in 2022 and beyond.
"Next year we will be looking to improve and go for a state championship," Kock said. "She has two more years and I have three, so we will be back and hopefully even better."
West Coach Amie Villarini was pleased with the effort the Mascardos gave in their matches. They lost a marathon three-hour semifinal match, 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 to the eventual state champions Mira Keernan and Maya Mallavarapu of Cedar Falls in the semifinals.
“They really played solid tennis,”“ she said. "They gave it their all. That is all you can ask for. They gave it their best effort and had fun playing.
“We just stressed that all year. We all have a different perspective on life after a year of COVID. Getting out on the court was simply a blessing.”
West sophomore Ella De Young was supposed to play in the consolation round Thursday, but elected to default because of some lingering back issues. The goal is that with an extra day of rest and some treatment she will be able to play in Saturday's team competition.
In the singles final, Allison Szalay of West Des Moines Dowling downed Claire Gu of West Des Moines Valley, 6-4, 6-3.