Women’s tennis prepares to finish season strong

The women’s tennis team is in the midst of an historic season. The team is currently 7-5 in the conference, and 7-7 overall, giving them a 2nd place seed in the Valley Division of the Mississippi Valley Conference. They will complete their final match of the season against Waterloo West on Tuesday, May 8.

In the past 20 years, only two Cedar Falls women’s tennis teams have completed their season with a winning record, this year’s team being one of them. The team is made up of 10 girls, six of which compete at the varsity level. Seniors Katie Todd and Maddie Boland, juniors Halle Benson, Hannah Mallaro, Maya Amjadi, Alex Redfern and Lindsey Davis, sophomores Sophie Mallaro and Katie Yang, and freshman Ariana Mitra make up the squad. If they win Tuesday evening, their wins in conference will equal the wins from the past three seasons combined.

“The reason we have been a lot more successful this year is because of the hard work and dedication everyone on the team has shown for the past year. It has made us more confident in our games and improved our strokes enough to make us close to the top of conference,” said Katie Todd, the number one singles player. With a 5-6 record, Todd shows she has what it takes to compete with the best of the best.

Juniors Halle Benson (5-5) and Hannah Mallaro (4-8) have both played at the number two and three spots. Sophomore Sophie Mallaro holds her spot at number four and is 8-4 in the conference. If she wins her final match of the season, Sophie will be the first singles player in at least 10 years to have double digit wins in a season.

Freshman Ariana Mitra and junior Maya Amjadi were this year’s rookies. Both have solid records at 7-5 and 6-6 respectfully.

“This year I have so many committed teammates that invested a lot of time in the off season. I think that devotion to work hard is the reason we are seeing the significant improvement in our record from last year. Tennis is such a mental game that even when we are told a team is better than us, we have been able to win crucial points by playing smart and being aggressive,” Amjadi said.

The season kicked off with an impressive win against Cedar Rapids Xavier. Since then, the team has defeated powerhouses such as Dubuque Wahlert. The team gives lots of credit to their practice and skill in doubles. Many times, matches have come down to doubles, and often Cedar Falls has come through in the clutch. They have maintained a second place spot throughout the season, only behind Iowa City West.

“This is now my 4th year of coaching the women’s tennis team. The improvement that we are seeing this year didn’t just happen. It started several years ago with a renewed commitment to off-season practice and competition,” head coach Mike Knox said.

During the off season, many players spent time practicing at the Black Hawk Tennis Club. Last summer, many took a road trip to Chicago to scrimmage area high schools. This year’s team has showed more dedication and passion than many others in years past. With only two seniors graduating, the future for women’s tennis look bright.

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