116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – Before the season, Iowa City High girls' tennis coach Fred Pedersen laid out four hurdles for his team.
Early-season matches soon gave way to a convincing win over rival Iowa City West, but the third hurdle was a visit from the defending state champions from Cedar Rapids Washington.
Saturday at the City High tennis courts, Pedersen and his bunch emphatically announced themselves ready for the fourth hurdle – postseason play – with a convincing 7-2 victory over the Warriors.
The City High triumph snaps a 31-dual winning streak for Washington (11-1, 9-1 Mississippi Valley Conference).
'It's a great win for the girls,” Pedersen said. 'The girls really worked hard. I think it's huge.”
Saturday was a stark contrast to the first round meeting in last year's state tournament, won 5-1 by Washington. This time, City High claimed four of six singles' matches before clinching the victory in doubles.
'We'll talk about how they've improved in a year's time,” Pedersen said. 'We still can improve and just continue to try to improve every day and not get too overwhelmed with today's victory, but stay on task.”
Pedersen received pivotal contributions from the bottom of his lineup. At No. 6, Bihotza James continued a stellar freshman season with a quick 10-0 shutout of Laura Gibson. Sophomore Lucy Wagner followed suit with a 10-2 win in the fifth slot over Eliza Sundermann.
With top singles player Eve Small comfortably ahead in her match, it was up to senior Kit Finley at No. 4 to determine if the dual headed to doubles play knotted at 3-3, or whether City High would be up by two matches.
'I saw that Bihotza and Lucy had won and Eve was obviously going to win,” Finley said. 'That's obviously what I thought about. I wanted the 4-2.”
Finley swung the momentum heavily in City High's favor by rallying from a 5-4 deficit with six straight games and a 10-5 victory over Jennifer Greif.
'I just worked on hitting it back, being a wall,” Finley said. 'She beat me last year and she had a great comeback, so I really just wanted to redeem myself this year.”
Finley and Wagner clinched the dual with a 10-2 win in doubles over Abby Van Metre and Molly O'Donnell.
'Lucy's been a really great doubles partner this year,” Finley said. 'We've just been really clicking. We have the superstition where we have to high-five after every point.”
Having already vanquished the top three teams on its MVC schedule (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa City West and Washington), City High (12-0, 9-0 MVC) is on the cusp of a division title and an undefeated regular season.
'I think that this is a huge accomplishment,” said Small, who defeated Lilly Hartman, 10-2, and won doubles with Innes Hicsasmaz. 'They were our biggest in-conference challenge. That we beat them, especially with the score that we did, is a really good tribute to all the hard work that the girls have put in and how far we've actually come.”
AT IOWA CITY HIGH
Iowa City High 7, C.R. Washington 2
Singles - Eve Small (ICH) def. Lilly Hartman, 10-2; Hannah Sherman (CRW) def. Innes Hicsasmaz, 10-6; Kelly King (CRW) def. Susanna Gianola, 10-5; Kit Finley (ICH) def. Jennifer Greif, 10-6; Lucy Wagner (ICH) def. Eliza Sundermann, 10-2; Bihotza James (ICH) def. Laura Gibson, 10-0.
Doubles - Small/Hicsasmaz (ICH) def. Hartman/Sherman, 10-6; Gianola/James (ICH) def. King/Caroline Berg, 10-6; Finley/Wagner (ICH) def. Molly O'Donnell/Abby Van Metre, 10-2.
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