116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION – Linn-Mar boys' tennis player Tim Paulson always looked the part of a No. 1 singles player.
Now getting his shot after a couple of seasons at No. 2, the senior is making the most of the opportunity.
'It was definitely a big step up from last year,” Paulson said after top-ranked Linn-Mar dispatched No. 5 Cedar Rapids Washington, 8-1, Wednesday at Linn-Mar. 'There's definitely a big difference between one and two. But it was just kind of a challenge that I looked at going into the season.”
Paulson continued his unbeaten season with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jackson Hoyt of Washington. His serve has a noticeable uptick in velocity from last season, something he diligently worked on in the offseason.
'A lot of it is just getting my form perfected,” Paulson said. 'And then just a lot of repetition…That definitely helps both the pace on the ball and the consistency.”
While the Lions' roster lost a state champion in Brady Anderson after last season, Linn-Mar (9-0, 7-0 Mississippi Valley Conference) returned nine of its top 10 players from its state runner-up squad. Four of the six singles' players in the main lineup - Paulson, Trevor McCann, Ben Myers and Kyle Brendes - are seniors. All recorded singles' victories as the Lions handed Washington (5-1, 5-1 MVC) its first loss.
The Iowa Tennis Coaches Association has ranked Linn-Mar No. 1 in its Class 2A poll all season, but its worthiness will be judged May 7 when they travel to second-ranked and three-time defending state champion Iowa City West (8-0, 5-0 MVC), winners of 63 consecutive duals.
'We're ready,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris Wundram said. 'It's not going to be easy, and until somebody beats them, they're the favorite.”
Linn-Mar 8, C.R. Washington 1
Singles - Tim Paulson (LM) def. Jackson Hoyt, 6-3, 6-2; Trevor McCann (LM) def. Parker Muller, 6-2, 4-6, 10-5; Ben Myers (LM) def. Oliver Hammond, 6-2, 6-3; Shane Skvor (LM) def. Dan Van Antwerp, 6-0, 6-1; Kyle Brendes (LM) def. Will Rizer, 6-0, 6-0; Lucas Huffman (LM) def. Jack Parmley, 7-5, 6-1.
Doubles - Paulson/McCann (LM) def. Hoyt/Hammond, 2-6, 6-3, 10-5; Myers/Skvor def. Van Antwerp/Rizer, 7-5, 6-3; Muller/Parmley (CRW) def. Huffman/Jack Gertsen, 6-2, 6-2.
SMALL GETTING BIG HELP
If Iowa City High girls' tennis has ever been referred to as 'Eve Small and everybody else,” it's time for a new narrative.
'I think all the girls have improved,” Small said after an impressive 8-1 thumping of previously-unbeaten rival Iowa City West Tuesday at the Hawkeye Tennis and Rec Center. 'And their consistency has gotten a lot better. All the girls are really mentally strong. They read the court well and wait for the shot that they want, which is really important not to get impatient or antsy.”
Small, a two-time defending state singles runner-up, has been customarily dominant this season. Lefty Innes Hicsasmaz is playing confident at No. 2 singles, while Susanna Gianola, Kit Finley and Lucy Wagner have all notched big victories in the middle slots. At No. 6, freshman Bihotza James has impressed with a level of poise and maturity that belies her age.
'I think that she is a very intimidating six,” Small said. 'She is a force to be reckoned with at six. It makes our team that much deeper.”
City High (9-0, 6-0 MVC) hosts Dubuque Senior and Cedar Rapids Kennedy before Cedar Rapids Washington comes calling for an MVC Mississippi showdown Saturday at noon. The Little Hawks were eliminated in the team state tournament last season by Washington (10-0, 8-0 MVC), which are the defending state champions.
'This Saturday will be another hurdle,” City High Coach Fred Pedersen said. 'The girls have stepped up to every expectation, so that's been really good.”
AT HAWKEYE TENNIS AND RECREATION COMPLEX
Iowa City High 8, Iowa City West 1
Singles - Eve Small (ICH) def. Megan Jans, 10-1; Innes Hicsasmaz (ICH) def. Hannah Smigel, 10-2; Brittani Langland (ICW) def. Susanna Gianola, 10-4; Kit Finley (ICH) def. Abby Jans, 10-1; Lucy Wagner (ICH) def. Simran Sarin, 10-2; Bihotza James (ICH) def. Abby Walling, 10-3.
Doubles - Small/Hicsasmaz (ICH) def. M. Jans/A. Jans, 10-2; Gianola/James (ICH) def. Smigel/Langland, 10-5; Finley/Wagner (ICH) def. Sarin/Sharon Xiang, 10-2.
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