Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Despite returning just two players with varsity experience Amie Villarini knew her West High tennis team was going to be talented in 2021.
Even with seven freshmen and sophomores that had never played a high school match in the top ten Villarini knew the Trojans would be good this spring after the 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic.
With that knowledge Villarini hasn’t been surprised West High has opened the season 12-0 start but the veteran coach has been impressed by what she has seen from her young team during its unbeaten start.
“I knew they were going to be good but I had no idea what their mental toughness or maturity on the court was going to be like,” Villarini said. “When we came out of the gate playing Cedar Falls that was going to be a real measure of what kind of a team we had and after that win it really showed me a lot about their mental toughness.”
Since edging third-ranked Cedar Falls 5-4 in the season opener West High has been dominate.
Top-ranked West High notched its ninth consecutive 9-0 win on Thursday blanking cross-town rival City High in a Mississippi Valley Conference meet at Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center.
A 7-2 win over eighth-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington on April 14 was the last time West High dropped a single match this season.
“I think it’s really impressive considering most of the players on the team this is their first year playing high school tennis,” West High senior Caroline Chandler said. “Only a couple of us have had that experience so I have been really impressed and proud of the team and how everyone has played in these matches.”
Chandler and junior Caroline Mascardo are the only remaining players from West High’s 2019 Class 2A runner-up team.
The rest of the regulars in the Trojan lineup are getting their first taste of varsity tennis this season.
That lack of experience hasn’t slowed West High in the slightest.
“The majority of our team is freshmen and sophomores, people who haven’t had a season yet so we didn’t feel too much pressure,” sophomore Julianna Mascardo said. “I think we’ve delivered really well.”
West High continued its string of stellar play on Thursday in its win over City High (3-8).
Sophomore Ella De Young remained unbeaten in singles play with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Sarah Dockery-Jackson at number one singles that pushed her season record to 10-0.
Mascardo (9-2) defeated Evelyn Wolfe 6-0, 6-1 at number two singles and Chandler moved to 10-1 on the year with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Sonya Liebig at number three singles.
Sophomores Lydia Shin (9-0) and Zola Gross (8-0) and junior Lindsey Henkenius (4-0) all kept their season records unblemished with singles wins on Thursday.
“This is the deepest team I have ever had,” Villarini said. “I tell our team a lot of our toughest competition is our practices playing against one another because I feel like we have some of the best players in the state here.”
Even with the early success West High is seeking to improve as the season goes on.
West High travels to Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Friday and plays at Class 1A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier on Tuesday before closing the regular season at home against Cedar Rapids Kennedy on May 6.
“I think every match regardless of who you are playing you can learn something from it,” Chandler said. “I think every match we figure out things we do well and things we can work on and I think going into regional and state play we are playing pretty solid and I think every match has been a good experience for the team.”
West High 9, City High 0
1. Ella De Young (ICW) def. Sarah Dockery-Jackson 6-1, 6-1
2. Julianna Mascardo (ICW) def. Evelyn Wolfe 6-0, 6-1
3. Caroline Chandler (ICW) def. Sonya Liebig 6-0, 6-0
4. Lydia Shin (ICW) def. Anita Venzke 6-1, 6-0
5. Zola Gross (ICW) def. Arabella Nelson 6-1, 6-1
6. Lindsey Henkenius (ICW) def. Greta Stanier 6-0, 6-1
1. Mascardo/Caroline Mascardo (ICW) def. Dockery-Jackson/Wolfe 6-0, 6-0
2. L. Shin/Lilly Graham (ICW) def. Venzke/Nelson 6-2, 6-0
3. Maggie Shin/Gross (ICW) def. Liebig/Stanier 6-1, 6-2