Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Track and field took the night off across the state. Too cold and windy.
But the match of the season in Mississippi Valley Conference girls tennis went ahead as scheduled at West High. The undefeated Women of Troy played host to undefeated Cedar Falls in 30-something degree wind chills in the regular-season finale.
West High rode its unsung heroes to a 7-2 victory to claim MVC supremacy.
“It’s awesome,” Caroline Mascardo said. “Leading up to this meet I just kept wondering, ‘Are we going to win it? Are we going to lose?’”
Mascardo and doubles partner Vivian Mitchell clinched the victory with their dominant 6-2, 6-0 victory over the Tigers’ Malina Amjadi and Elena Escalada.
“I’m so grateful for my partner,” Mascardo said. “She’s amazing. She helped pull us through. This means a lot. This is probably the meet we all looked toward and were scared about, but we did it.”
Mascardo and Mitchell were also singles winners. In fact, West took a 4-2 lead going to doubles despite losing the No. 1 and 2 singles.
Mascardo won the No. 3 singles match 6-0, 6-1 over Amjadi, while Mitchell beat Escalada 6-3, 6-1 in No. 5 singles.
West High’s Caroline Chandler won the No. 4 singles, 6-4, 7-5 over Jamie Knox, and Natalie Katz came from behind to win the No. 6 singles 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-7) over Vipsa Dodiya.
Seemingly in control West still had to get a doubles win to clinch the match.
Mitchell and Mascardo were ready.
“We’re undefeated this season, and I feel like we always play well,” Mitchell said. “I feel like we’re a good team. And I felt being in the No 2 (doubles) spot today that we’d probably be able to do it. I thought being consistent and attacking at the net is what we should do. That ended up working.”
West High’s top players, Jessica Moonjely and Audrey Koch, had their hands full with Cedar Falls Krisha Keeran and Mia Keeran in singles.
But Mascardo was in control in her match and started the Trojans on their way.
“(Amjadi) is a very hard hitter and she hits very deep, but as long as I was able to stay in there I got the points,” Mascardo said. “I knew she was having problems with moving around the court so I tried to move her around.”
Mitchell also took care of business as West showed its overall strength.
“My hands were really cold so I had to get adjusted to that,” she said. “Also the wind was really bad so your normal shots might not work and you have to adjust.
“I took advantage of my strokes and came up to the net as much as I could because I don’t normally do that. I just tried that today, and it ended up working. I noticed when I was up at the net that she couldn’t pass me, so I thought that was a really good strategy.”
Katz pulled her match out of the fire with a comeback in set two and then weathered a tight tiebreaker.
“I had to do this for the team. This is a really tough meet for us and that helps me not get too down on myself,” Katz said. “It helped having my teammates behind me and cheering me on. It helped that I won the first point of the tiebreaker. That made me feel less nervous.”
Chandler’s match was also a nailbiter but she was able to keep from going to the tiebreaker.
Moonjely and Koch came back in doubles to beat the Keerans in a close match 7-6, 7-6. Chandler and Katz came back in their doubles match to win in a tiebreaker for the final tally.
West High (15-0) flexed its muscles and gave a great demonstration of its depth in beating the Tigers (14-1) before the post-season tournaments begin.
“I think our team is unique in that our entire team is strong one through six,” Mascardo said. “And I think it’s pretty great that the “bottom players” were able to come through.”
“I think our “bottom players” are like the top players on other teams,” Mitchell said. “We can pull through on the bottom and that really encourages the people on the top. That’s what makes our team work all together.”
1. Krisha Keeran (CF) def. Jessica Moonjely 6-3, 6-4
2. Mira Keeran (CF) def. Audrey Koch 6-3, 6-4
3. Caroline Mascardo (ICW) def. Malina Amjadi 6-0, 6-1
4. Caroline Chandler (ICW) def. Jame Knox 6-4, 7-5
5. Vivian Mitchell (ICW) def. Elena Escalada 6-3, 6-1
6. Natalie Katz (ICW) def. Vipsa Dodiya 3-6, 6-1 1-0
1. Moonjelly/Koch (ICW) def. K. Keeran/M. Keeran 7-6, 7-6
2. Mascardo/Mitchell (ICW) def. Amjadi/Escalada 6-2, 6-0
3. Chandler/Katz (ICW) def. Knox/Dodiya 6-7, 6-4, 1-0
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