Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The cancellation of spring sports last year due to the coronavirus pandemic meant a lost season for every tennis team in Iowa.
When a team has played in the state title match nine consecutive seasons like West High has it is hard not to look at the cancelled season as a missed opportunity.
As easy as it would be to focus on what was lost last season West High is instead focused on what was gained from last season, mainly a new appreciation for the opportunity to play.
“I think everyone on our team are wonderful people and with last year being cancelled we are just all grateful even to be able to have a season,” West High senior Mukundan Kasturirangan said. “After just one year off you forget how precious those memories are so just being out here is amazing.”
Kasturirangan and fellow senior Eli Young helped West High win the 2A state title in 2019, its eighth state title since 2005.
Last season those two were set to be leaders on a Trojan team poised for an unprecedented 10th consecutive trip to the state finals.
Instead, the pandemic shut down spring sports and in the process amped up the admiration the Trojans are feeling in their return to the court this spring.
“We aren’t taking anything for granted,” Young said. “Every practice we are enjoying being on the court together, especially on nice days like these we take nothing for granted.”
Once again West High appears poised for a postseason run.
West High improved to 6-0 on the season on Thursday with a 9-0 win over City High (2-8) in a Mississippi Valley Conference meet at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center in Iowa City.
“I think the vibe on this team is so good this year because there is such a level of appreciation for playing,” West High coach Mitch Gross said. “They are grateful to have a chance to play.”
West High looked motivated and equally talented on Thursday while posting its fourth consecutive 9-0 win of the season.
Young, senior BJ Wolfe and freshman Ryan Kirkpatrick all posted 6-0, 6-0 wins in singles play.
Young improved to 4-0 on the season with a victory over Mal Nye at number one singles.
“Missing last season was hard but I think it’s given me even more of an ability to lead this year this year,” Young said. “There is even more want and energy to give everything I’ve got this year.”
Kasturirangan and Young are surrounded in the West High lineup by talented young plays.
Sophomore Jayden Shin downed Owen Vanderlinden 6-1, 6-0 at number two singles on Thursday and freshman Samir Singh won a 6-0, 6-1 match over Sam Motto at number three singles.
“We’ve seen tremendous effort throughout these last two years from every guy on the team,” Young said. “Everyone keeps improving every single day and we are going to continue to improve and there is a lot of leadership on this team but there is also a lot of youth and they are showing tremendous effort and strength and improvement and it’s been awesome to be a part of.”
Kasturirangan and Luca Chackalala won 6-0, 6-0 over Nye and Vanderlinden at number one doubles and Singh and Wolfe won 6-0, 6-0 over Adam Bywater and Motto at number two doubles.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Kasturirangan said. “It was very good fundamentals I thought. Just good fundamental tennis.”
The match of the meet came at number three doubles where Patrick Selby and Shivy Mennengi won a tie-breaker 8-6 to down Adrian Bostain and Owen Ojile 6-1, 7-6.
“We still have that depth,” Gross said. “I think in the past we’ve had one or two studs, we don’t have the absolute one or two knockout punch we are just a very consistent team. I think if we play a good team everybody has an equal chance of winning matches.”
The biggest test of the regular season awaits West High on May 8 when it travels to take on second-ranked Waukee and fourth-ranked West Des Moines Valley.
“Next weekend we play Waukee and that is number one versus number two and I think that’s going to be a real battle,” Gross said. “We will see how that goes, that will be the first real litmus test to see where we are.”
West High 9, City High 0
1. Eli Young (ICW) def. Mal Nye 6-0, 6-0
2. Jayden Shin (ICW) def. Owen Vanderlinden 6-1, 6-0
3. Samir Singh (ICW) def. def. Sam Motto 6-0, 6-1
4. BJ Wolfe (ICW) def. Adrian Bostain 6-0, 6-0
5. Doroteo Ortiz (ICW) def. Owen Ojile 6-1, 6-0
6. Ryan Kirkpatrick (ICW) def. Doak Allgood 6-0, 6-0
1. Mukundan Kasturirangan/Luca Chackalala (ICW) def. Nye/Vanderlinden 6-0, 6-0
2. Singh/Wolf (ICW) def. Adam Bywater/Motto 6-0, 6-0
3. Patrick Selby Shivy Mennengi (ICW) def. Adrian Bostain/Owen Ojile 6-1, 7-6 (8-6)