Prep Sports

West junior Emma Koch on a different court now

After helping win state basketball title, she readies for tennis season

Iowa City West’s Emma Koch returns the ball during a state quarterfinal at the 2016 Class 2A girls’ state tennis tournament in Cedar Rapids. Koch will be vying for the No. 1 spot on the West team this spring. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Emma Koch returns the ball during a state quarterfinal at the 2016 Class 2A girls’ state tennis tournament in Cedar Rapids. Koch will be vying for the No. 1 spot on the West team this spring. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The last month has been a whirlwind of sorts for Iowa City West junior Emma Koch.

March began with Koch playing a key role as the Women of Troy captured the Class 5A state basketball title with a 56-45 win over rival City High in the championship game.

Koch also is a standout tennis player. She teamed with 2017 graduate Abby Jans to win the Class 2A state doubles title last spring. With West’s season scheduled to start on April 5 against Cedar Rapids Xavier, Koch has been putting in double duty.

“Emma’s future is in basketball and she has been playing with her club team since the end of the high school season,” said West Coach Amie Villarini. “There’s been days where she comes to tennis practice then heads right over to basketball practice.

“She handles it pretty well. I’m always checking with her all the time to make sure she is all right because she works so hard at both sports.”

Koch admits some days can be pretty rough, especially with having to do homework after getting home from basketball late at night. She quickly adds she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“All of my coaches are considerate of the others,” she said. “They allow me to be able to work on both sports and I have got better at handling it.”

Despite her limited time on the tennis court, Villarini said Koch is a very skilled athlete who is able to make adjustments quickly.

“I think both basketball and tennis are highly-skilled sports,” she said. “Emma has good agility and outstanding hand-eye coordination which helps her in both sports.”

Her lack of time on the tennis court during the offseason doesn’t concern Koch. She said she was able to get a little time on the court and planned to do more, but West’s basketball schedule was “crazy this year.”

“I just wasn’t able to get out and hit as much as I would have liked,” she said. “These last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to really put a lot of time in hitting and eventually it all starts coming back.”

West is a heavy favorite to capture top honors in the Mississippi Valley Conference this year. Koch is in contention to be West’s No. 1 singles player and could end up playing with a familiar partner to replace Jans.

“My sister (freshman Audrey) is on the team this year,” Koch said. “We haven’t played much together in matches, but we have practiced together and done drills together. It could be a pretty good team with two girls almost 6-foot tall playing together.”

Villarini said West still is going through challenge matches, adding the Koch sisters could end up as a doubles pairing.

No matter where Emma Koch ends up in West lineup, one thing is clear in Villarini’s eyes.

“Emma is a tremendous leader,” she said. “Everybody on the team looks up to her. She’s a team-oriented player and very coachable, a great person to have leading your team.”

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