OTTUMWA — Nobody can say the Ottumwa tennis teams are ducking anybody early this season.
The Bulldog boys faced their second state semifinalist in three meets on Saturday when they faced fourth-place finisher Bettendorf on Saturday. At the same time, the Ottumwa girls were battling the elements and the field at the “Top Gun” Tournament hosted by Class 1A state champ Waterloo Columbus.
The Bulldog girls also have faced 2A state semifinalist West Des Moines Valley in their only dual meet prior to Monday’s encounter with Burlington. Heading into the matchup at Dan Staggs Courts, that stiff competition has prevented head coach Emily Phommachack’s squad from doing much celebrating.
There was plenty for the Bulldogs to celebrate on Monday with plenty of people to celebrate with at Dan Staggs Courts. Ottumwa won every set in every match, earning a 9-0 sweep of the Greyhounds while adding a perfect 7-7 effort in junior varsity matches.
“It was great to get a big win with big crowd here to support us,” senior Ashley Salgado said. “We always play well on our home courts. The energy was there and we just wanted it.”
Salgado got the energy level up right away by earning her own shutout in the top singles match, winning 6-0, 6-0 over Elly Eibes to open the night. Several Bulldogs followed suit to keep the enthusiasm up among the tennis players on the court and the members of the Ottumwa boys tennis team that provided the Bulldog girls with a great home-court advantage.
“It was nice for the boys team to be out here supporting us when they weren’t playing,” Kelsey Granneman said.
Granneman helped lock up the Bulldog girls’ first winning night with a straight-set win over Angie Jennings before joining Salgado to sweep the No. 1 doubles match from Eibes and Victoria Laszer. Moments earlier, Laszer was beaten by Katie Hicks, 6-2, 6-3, in the No. 2 singles match that doubled as a breakout moment to what had been an early-season full of losses for the Bulldog senior.
“I’ve been kind of bummed because I hadn’t been able to win,” Hicks said after gaining her first win of her final prep tennis season. “I’m glad to finally be getting my game back. I’m looking forward to having a really good season. It’s been really hard so far, but I’m glad I’m getting back.”
Hicks wasn’t the only one happy with her first win of the year.
“She really needed this win. I’m so proud of her,” Phommachack said. “She places the ball well.”
The Bulldogs were happy to be back home after battling a quality four-team field and inclement weather Saturday at Waterloo. Conditions were definitely drier with strong, cold winds forcing Ottumwa netters to again adjust to new outdoor elements.
Hicks talked about the Bulldogs using the big gusts to their advantage.
“We’re just better at playing our shot. Knowing how to attack a player’s weaknesses always helps,” Hicks said. “It’s better to get this out of the way early in the season (playing in different weather conditions). It won’t be such a shock later on.”
Ever the trend-setter, Salgado set the tone for attacking the Burlington opposition. In both her singles and doubles wins, Salgado won several net points by attacking and delivering sharp, unreturnable slams.
“It seems like I say it after every match, but Ashley does a great job making her opponents move with the way she places the ball,” Phommachek said. “It was really important on a day as windy as this one was.”
“It’s kind of windy, but once we got used to it, it wasn’t that bad,” Salgado added.
The Bulldogs (1-1) will hit the road for a dual for the first time this season on Thursday. The trip to face Waukee is another early-season test the Ottumwa girls are happy to take on.
“We definitely had a tough schedule to start,” Salgado said. “I think it helps having the experience factor. We’re okay with it.”
“It’s gotten us ready,” Granneman added. “We’ve played good teams thus far, but it’s getting us ready for the rest of the season.”
Ottumwa 9, Burlington 0
No. 1 — Ashley Salgado (Ottumwa) def. Elly Eibes (Burlington) 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 — Katie Hicks (O) def. Victoria Lazar (B) 6-2, 6-3. No. 3 — Mary Paluska (O) def. Ahmi Dhnna (B) 6-1, 6-0. No. 4 — Kelsey Granneman (O) def. Angie Jennings (B) 6-2, 6-0. No. 5 — Jennifer Klodt (O) def. Makayla McClellara (B) 6-1, 6-0. No. 6 — Jill Ardueser (O) def. Bailey Galvin (B) 6-2, 6-4.
No. 1 — Salgado and Granneman (O) def. Eibes and Lazar (B) 6-2, 6-2. No. 2 — Paluska and Rachel Hinebaugh (O) def. Dhuna and Jennings (B) 6-2, 6-1. No. 3 — Klodt and Andi Helgerson (O) def. McClellan and Galvin (B) 6-4, 6-0.
Ottumwa JV 7, Burlington JV 0
Hayli Beeson (Ottumwa) def. Alix Hanger (Burlington) 7-5. Sydney Grooms (O) def. Lauren Fidler (B) 6-4.
No. 1 — Grooms and Beeson (O) def. Fidler and Hanger (B) 6-1. No. 2 — Alicia Hornfeck and Emily Songer (O) def. Karlie Lawler and Ali Whisenant (B) 6-1. No. 3 — Katie Zingg and Megan Black (O) def. Melinda Luecke and Samanatha Gibbs (B) 6-1. Zingg and Black (O) def. Lawler and Whisenant (B) 6-1. Songer and Hornfeck (O) def. Gibbs and Luecke (B) 6-2.