The next three days will be a grind for Kevin Cooper.
But the Creston/Orient-Macksburg coach wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Panthers have two teams in the Class 1-A girls state doubles tournament, played Thursday and Friday at Byrnes Park in Waterloo along with singles matches.
They will then come back Saturday to make their first appearance in school history at the four-team state team meet. No. 3 seed Creston will face second-seeded Decorah; Camanche and Waterloo Columbus will square off in the other semifinal.
Cooper enjoys the format. It gives the community something to rally around.
“We have girls that haven’t qualified for state before who are now going to be with us the whole weekend,” Cooper said. “It includes everyone, and I like the fact that all the parents will already be there.”
The coach will bring an all-senior lineup with him to state.
Highlighting that group is the No. 1 doubles team of Jenna Taylor and Alli Thomsen. Taylor and Thomsen earned the second of the tournament’s four seeds and will face Newton’s Megan Pressgrove and Kate Wyre. The Creston pair finished sixth at state last season and enter this spring with a record of 18-0.
They’ll be joined by senior teammates Caitlin McIlravy and Sydney Dunphy, who qualified as district runners-up and will face Pella Christian’s Rachel Tvedt and Brooke Jorgensen.
Although just one Panther team is seeded, Cooper said both are capable of making a championship run.
“To me, a seed means that you had a great regular season,” he said. “Once you get to state, everybody is good. Once you’re seeded, you still have to play well in order to hold your seed.
“I expect both doubles teams to compete for a state title. They know that, and all those girls want to win the whole thing. If they didn’t, then something is not right.”
Taylor, Thomsen, McIlravy and Dunphy will also be the Panthers’ Nos. 1-4 singles players at the team tournament. Seniors Gracie Russell and Ann Waigand are 5 and 6, respectively, and the No. 3 doubles team. Freshman Megan Haley will travel as a substitute.
“Our goal is to win it,” Cooper said. “It’s obviously the best competition in the state. We realize that, and we know we have to play well to win it. That’s the way it is.
“We want to get to the point where we don’t just show up once in a while, but we’re there often. It’s hard to get to the final four in team.”
Denison-Schleswig also qualified a pair of doubles teams. Sydney Gunderson and Jacque Ingram drew the 4 seed and will take on Mount Vernon’s Josia Vandersall and Wynne Vandersall. The Monarchs will also send Olivia Ipsen and Sophie Schultz, who will meet Davenport Assumption’s Elizabeth Bush and Erin McGivern in the first round.
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