116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – The boys are proud three-time defending state champions with a host of new faces.
The girls are replete with experience and appear poised to make noise in the Valley division of the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Put the two together, and you can make a case that the best combination of prep tennis teams in the area resides at Iowa City West.
'We are such a different team,” West boys coach Mitch Gross said after the Trojans defeated West Des Moines Valley, 6-5, Wednesday at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. 'We're really trying to get better and improve and grow as a team.”
West (4-0, 1-0 MVC) – winners of 59 straight duals – graduated four of its top six singles' players from last season. Sophomore Jiung Jung – who Gross calls the best sophomore he has ever coached – assumed the no. 1 singles spot and has yet to drop a set this season. 6-foot-7 senior David DiLeo showed no rust from his successful basketball season, while Cole Schneider continues to impress in the third slot. All three, plus Ryan Smith, won singles' matches against Valley (6-1), who was third at state last year but were without top singles player Yasha Litvak on Wednesday.
West hosts Cedar Rapids Jefferson Thursday at 4.
The West girls' team is off to a 3-0 start, highlighted by Saturday victories over Bettendorf and defending state runner-up Clinton at Bettendorf. The Women of Troy return five of their top six singles' players, led by the state doubles runner-up team of seniors Megan Jans and Brittani Langland.
'It's a tremendous asset,” West girls coach Amie Villarini said. 'A lot of them continue to play year-round. Not only are they back from last year, they're usually a little more improved.”
Significant improvement has been seen from junior Hannah Smigel, who earned the no. 2 singles spot through competitive challenge matches against Jans and Langland.
'Last year I wasn't really very consistent,” Smigel said. 'I am a lot smarter player now.”
Sophomores Abby Jans and Simran Sarin provided important depth at slots four and five when each collected a pair of vital singles' victories Saturday.
The West girls play at Jefferson Thursday at 4.
HOYT AND HAMMOND TEAM UP FOR WASH BOYS
Cedar Rapids Washington has found an effective doubles' tandem in junior Jackson Hoyt and senior Oliver Hammond. The duo tore through Saturday's Warrior Invitational at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center, posting a 5-0 record against a six-school field that included Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Class 1A powers Fairfield Maharishi and Decorah.
'They've been in the wars of competitive doubles and I think they make a good team,” Washington Coach Rusty Graff said. 'They complement each other well.”
The pair are especially effective as a lefty-righty combo, which presents unique challenges with serves that differ in spin motion, curve and bounce.
'I'm left-handed, so I've got the spin that helps kick it down the middle,” Hammond said. 'So then Jackson can pick off the volley.”
With the Washington lineup set, the plan is for Hoyt and Hammond to compete in doubles when district play begins May 14 at Kennedy.
'We both like to play at the net, which helps a lot,” Hoyt said. 'It's all serve and volley.”
ITCA RANKINGS RELEASED
The Iowa Tennis Coaches Association released its first Class 2A boys' rankings on Monday. Defending state runner-up Linn-Mar led the way with seven first-place votes, while West was second with three. Washington was ranked fifth and Iowa City High closed out the poll at no. 10.
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