Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The longest and most challenging day of Vivian Mitchell’s prep tennis career ended with the lengthiest point of her life.
When the grueling day and epic final point final came to a close Mitchell was celebrating the best moment of her tennis career.
Mitchell and doubles partner Jessica Moonjely won a third set tiebreaker 10-7 to lift West High to a 5-4 win over Ames in the Class 2A state title match on Saturday at Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center in Iowa City.
Moonjely and Mitchell won an incredible six-minute, 152-shot rally on match point to cap a state title-clinching 7-5, 3-6 (10-7) win over the Ames tandem of Caitlyn Hanulikova and Chloe Wilson at number two doubles.
“As I was playing out there I felt like I was running out of all the energy I had but I knew I had to keep going,” Mitchell said. “This is the best tennis moment ever.”
The final point was a fitting end to an exhausting day for West High that started with a 5-2 semifinal win over West Des Moines Dowling and lasted nearly 10 hours.
Five of the nine matches against Ames needed a third-set super tiebreaker to determine a winner including both the singles matches for Mitchell and Moonjely.
“I knew it was probably going to end up this way and be this tight, I knew it was going to be intense every single match because we are dead even one through six,” West High coach Amie Villarini said. “It’s really hard to crown a victor in this match because both teams fought so hard and we were so even and I’m just glad that we came out ahead.”
West High opened its day by avenging a semifinal loss from a year ago with a 5-2 win over West Des Moines Dowling.
Ames (14-1) set up a title match showdown of unbeatens with a 5-1 semifinal over Pleasant Valley.
It lived up to the hype.
The two teams split the six singles matches with Moonjely and Meg Moreland each winning third set tiebreaks to pull West High even at 3-3 heading to doubles play.
“I’m just really proud of my team overcoming the pressure and the nerves with what was at stake and coming through when it counted,” Villarini said. “Jessica was down 0-5 and 1-6 in her 10-point tiebreaker and came back and won it 10-7. I thought we were done in that one and she fought back and won it.”
The state doubles champions Emma and Audrey Koch earned a convincing 6-0, 6-1 win at number one singles and the Ames tandem of Shria Chug and Emma Cai defeated Caroline Chandler and Moreland 10-7 in a third-set tiebreak to even the match.
Moonjely and Mitchell won the opening set 7-5 but dropped the third set 3-6 to set a winner-take-all tiebreak.
“You just have to focus on the ball in that situation, you have to drowned everything else and take it one ball at a time,” Moonjely said. “You can’t be thinking about the next point. You can’t be thinking what if I miss you just have to stay in the moment and keep on executing.”
Mitchell and Moonjely built a 9-7 lead and clinched the title with a nearly six-minute rally that featured 152 shots.
Both teams dropped both players to the baseline and were content to play from there.
“I knew that we were up 9-7 so we had a little room but I really wanted to finish it out. I just told Vivian that we had to stay consistent and let them make the mistake,” Moonjely said. “You don’t often see both teams with two people back. It was unconventional but it worked.”
Moonjely and Mitchel took turns returning shots before Moonjely rushed the net and dumped a shot over that the onrushing Ames player couldn’t reach.
“As soon as Jessica hit that shot I just started running to hug her right away,” Mitchell said. “I knew she wasn’t going to get to it.”
The dramatic point was a perfect ending to a magical season for West High which finished with an unblemished 20-0 dual record.
“The team was definitely something special,” Emma Koch said. “It was comparable to our basketball state championship you just get to celebrate with your whole team and everyone played a huge role.”
1. Arunadee Fernando (AME) def. Emma Koch 7-5, 7-6 (6)
2. Audrey Koch (ICW) def. Caitlyn Hanulokova 6-3, 6-1
3. Jessica Moonjely (ICW) def. Lauren Couves 6-2, 5-7 (10-7)
4. Chloe Wilson (AME) def. Vivian Mitchell 4-6, 6-0 (10-4)
5. Shria Chug (AME) def. Caroline Chandler 6-3, 7-6 (5)
6. Meg Moreland (ICW) def. Angela Sheng 7-5, 1-6 (10-6)
1. Koch/Koch (ICW) def. Frenando/Couves 6-0, 6-1
2. Moonjely/Mitchell (ICW) def. Hanulikova/Wilson 7-5, 3-6 (10-7)
3. Chug/Emma Cai (AME) def. Chandler/Moreland 4-6, 6-4 (10-3)
1. Emma Koch (ICW) def. Sofie Sackett 6-1, 6-2
2. Audrey Koch (ICW) def. Kaylyn Chleborad 6-0, 7-5
3. Jessica Moonjely (ICW) def. Anna Wanek 6-3, 6-3
4. Rockie Greenslade (WDD) def. Vivian Mitchell 4-6, 7-5 (10-0)
5. Caroline Chandler (ICW) def. Shannon Dougherty 6-0, 6-1
6. Claire Triplett (WDD) def. Meg Moreland 6-2, 6-4
1. Emma Koch/Audrey Koch (ICW) def. Chleborad/Wanek 3-6, 6-2 (10-3)