JOHNSTON – The girls state tennis tournament was twice as nice for Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
The Cougars, which qualified a tournament best five players, walked away with a little hardware, including a pair impressive finishes from the doubles competition.
The Cougars had two doubles teams place in the top five at the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s Class 2A state tournament at Johnston High School.
Sarah Lasecki and Christina Goeddel placed third, while Trisha Hinke and Jackie Pedersen claimed fifth place. Kennedy’s Lindsey Slater won a match in singles tournament. The team will compete as the No. 3 seed in today’s state team tournament, facing second-seed Iowa City West in the semifinal.
“I think it’s awesome we were able to do so well,” Pedersen said. It builds a lot of confidence before tomorrow.”
It was almost a tale of two tournaments for the Cougars. Lasecki and Goeddel came in unseeded with only a 5-1 record as a late-season pairing in the team’s doubles lineup. Hinke and Pedersen entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed.
Lasecki and Goeddel exceeded expectations, reaching the semifinals and winning the third-place match, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, over Muscatine’s Angie Allgood and Hannah Eichelberger, who knocked Hinke and Pedersen out of the championship bracket.
“It’s really exciting,” Goeddel said. “There’s a lot of great girls here. Everyone here deserves to be here, so it’s kind of like an honor to (place) that high.”
Lasecki and Goeddel could be considered the surprise of the tournament, knocking off West Des Moines Dowling’s fourth-seeded Catherine Porto and Megan Triplett, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
The Cougars lost to Iowa City West’s Lilli Oetting and Lola White-Baer in the semifinals. Oetting and White-Baer won the championship, beating Urbandale’s Brittany Lange and Michelle Van Roekel, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.
Lasecki, a freshman, didn’t know what to expect. She was pleasantly surprised with the results.
“I came in hoping to have fun,” Lasecki said. “It was definitely fun. I didn’t think we’d get as high as we did so that was cool.”
The team was formed when Kennedy Coach Joe Benedict was trying to solidify the team’s doubles. He matched Lasecki and Goeddel together and it produced a team that was 5-1 before state, losing only to Hinke and Pedersen in three sets in the regional final. Their styles meshed effectively for an 8-2 overall doubles record.
“We have such opposite games,” Lasecki said. “I have an aggressive game and she has a more consistent game. We just clicked because opposites attract.”
Goeddel added, “Doubles is an entirely different game. It requires two people with different strengths to make a complete team.”
Hinke and Pedersen had hopes of a top four finish and even contend for a state title. The finish is a good accomplishment but not well enough to soothe the sting of the quarterfinal loss to Allgood and Eichelberger.
“It’s cool getting fifth, but at the same time it sucks,” Pedersen said. “I’m trying to be happy with it.”
The team finished strong, playing some of their best tennis in the later rounds. It took resolve to win their final three matches.
“It’s not what we wanted but it shows a lot about us,” Hinke said. “It showed we could bounce back and we’re still going to win and play great tennis together.”
The pair entered the tournament with added pressure and a bit of a target on their back from that No. 2 seed. It took them time to relax and just play.
“We came in the first couple matches pretty jittery and trying to live up to the seed,” Hinke said. “That put some pressure on us. After a couple matches, we got into the swing of it.”
Hinke and Pedersen (19-2) beat Dowling’s Porto and Triplett, 6-3, 6-4, in the placing round. They were in control of the second set, but let up a little in the second before regaining momentum and claiming the straight set victory.
“We don’t like it,” Pedersen said about the let up. “We’re used to it.”
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Lisa Cowden and Elizabeth Hoffmann placed seventh. The Saints dropped Johnston’s Payto Kintz and Paige Collison, 6-2, 7-5, in the final round. They finished 12-8.
Cedar Rapids Washington’s Katie Hammond added to the family’s tennis trophy case. Hammond, whose brother Charlie was a member of the Warriors state runner-up boys doubles team last week, captured a seventh-place finish in the singles meet.
Hammond topped West’s Brittany Appel, 6-2, 6-4, in the placing match. It was her third win over Appel in the last two seasons.
“It feels good to place like that,” said Hammond, who entered the tournament 14-0 and ended with a 17-2. “There were some fun matches. It was long. It was hot. It was just good tennis.”
Hammond played well, losing only to Marshalltown’s top-seeded Krissy Lankelma, who won her second straight state singles title, and No. 4 seed Susanna Howard of Iowa City High, who placed fifth.
Hammond is also a member of the Warriors’ soccer team. Even though it’s different types of conditioning, soccer improved her stamina, giving her an advantage over some of her opponents.
“Endurance really helps, being used to playing in heat and running for every ball,” Hammond said. “Almost outlasting people. You have to be able to do that.”
Brittany Appel, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Christina Goeddel, Cougars, Elizabeth Hoffmann, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Jackie Pedersen, Joe Benedict, Katie Hammond, Lilli Oetting, Lindsey Slater, Lisa Cowden, Lola White-Baer, Saints, Sarah lasecki, Susanna Howard, Tennis, Warriors