Unique Iowa State Tournament Great Experience
For more than 50 years, Iowa has held a Co-Ed Tennis Tournament for high school players in the summer. It’s a chance for kids to play mixed doubles in a fun, competitive format. The 2021 tournament was held June 8-10 in Des Moines with 34 teams playing in the 1A Division and 41 teams in the 2A Division. Each school can enter up to two teams, and the best two-of-three sets with a third set tie-break.
David Will is the tournament director and tennis coach at Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo. He believes it’s the only tournament of its kind, and looks forward to it each summer. The top two schools receive a prize and medals are awarded for the final four individuals.
“The kids really enjoy it, it’s a fun tournament,” he said. “The two winners receive a nice acrylic trophy aptly named, ‘The Bob Smiley Award.’ It’s in honor of Bob Smiley who ran the tournament for many years and when some people wanted to stop the tournament, kept it alive and vibrant.”
Alli Hagness, a junior this fall at Columbus Catholic, was excited to play in the tournament and extend her season by playing more tennis. She and her partner Alex Feldman lost in the quarterfinals to the third-place team and ended up placing in the top eight out of 34 teams.
“I had a great time playing in the tournament because of the calm yet exciting atmosphere,” Hagness said. “It was different from Girls’ State because the guys play at a much faster pace and really challenge the girls. The Co-ed tournament was also much less pressure because there were no rankings to think about.”
As a result of playing in the Co-Ed tournament, it pushed Hagness to experiment with new and riskier shots. Looking ahead, she has bigger aspirations for her junior tennis season.
“My goals for the next high school season are to play more aggressively and take risks in the regular season like I did at the Co-Ed tournament,” she said. “I would like to place at both individual and team state.”
The following teams won in each division: 1A Co-Ed Doubles State Champions, Matthew Schmit and Miyako Coffey - Cedar Rapids Xavier High School. 2A Co-Ed State Doubles Champions, Will Blevins and Claudia Guan - Ankenny Centennial High School.