It was Senior Night, and the City High girls tennis team celebrated its first win over West High in a decade with cake and roses.
“It’s a big step for us,” sophomore Eve Small said. “It means that anything is possible. It took a long time to do it. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
City (12-1, 11-0 MVC) won 5-4, getting a key victory from freshman Innes Hicsasmiz at No. 2 singles to help set up the victory over West (12-2, 10-1).
“I can’t emphasize how big of an accomplishment that was for her career,” Small said. “That’s what did it. I’m so proud of her.”
Hicsasmiz was the last singles match on the court at No. 2, battling Addy Riley of West High. Hicsasmiz won 10-8.
“That was huge,” City coach Fred Pedersen said. “Innes stepped up and fought really hard.”
It was the difference between City going into doubles play tied 3-3 or down 2-4.
“I knew it’d be hard to get two doubles out of the three,” West coach Amie Villarini said. “We came up just short.”
The City High doubles team of Hicsasmiz and Abby Vitosh won quickly. Megan Jans and Brittani Langland of West won at No. 2 doubles to make it 4-4 overall.
Leaving it all up to No. 1 doubles.
“If you don’t like pressure, you don’t like tennis,” Small said.
Small and Susanna Gianola beat Riley and Elana Wilson 10-7 to clinch the match for City.
Despite the loss, the first-year West High coach couldn’t get too down. She has given private lesson to some of the City High players. Pedersen works with some West players as well.
“We are both hoping to continue to keep Iowa City tennis strong,” Villarini said. “City and West are the two best teams in the conference.”
Pedersen, now in his seventh year, said it is great to see tennis thriving on both sides of Iowa City.
“It’s really a remarkable thing to me,” Pedersen said. “West side and east side, two of the premier teams in the state.”
Pedersen has lost this match the past six years.
“I don’t even know the last time City won,” Pedersen said. “Its a great step forward for the girls tennis program.”
He had confidence in his team. City was 36-3 in doubles play this season coming into Tuesday’s match.
“We’ve been working on doubles all season long, trying to make it a strength,” Pedersen said.
Villarini mixed up her doubles lineup Tuesday, swapping players at No. 1 and No. 2. It led to one win, and one loss.
“It was tight,” Villarini said. “It could’ve gone either way. I’m still happy with my decision.”
The two teams may end up meeting again May 20 at Cedar Rapids Jefferson in a first-round state tournament match. Four teams from all over the state then advance to Veterans Memorial Tennis Center in Cedar Rapids to crown a champion in Class 2A.
“We have a good chance of going somewhere this year,” Small said.
CITY 5, WEST 4
Singles — Eve Small (C) def. Elana Wilson 10-1; Innes Hicsasmiz (C) def. Addy Riley 10-8; Megan Jans (W) def. Kit Finley 10-3; Brittani Langland (W) def. Susanna Gianola 10-7; Elizabeth Scheiffer (C) def. Maria Burtch 10-4; Nevya Mannengi (W) def. Abby Vitosh 10-2.
Doubles — Small/Gianola (C) def. Riley/Wilson 10-7; Jans/Langland (W) def. Finley/Scheiffer 10-8; Hicsasmiz/Vitosh (C) def. Burtch/Mannengi 10-3.