OTTUMWA — It doesn’t get much better in high school tennis than winning a dual in the final match of the night. The Ottumwa girls have had that opportunity twice already this season.
Maybe the third time will be the charm.
For the second time in just five duals, Ottumwa found themselves tied at 5-5 with one match left to be played. For the second time this season, every Bulldog player not on the court watched and cheered a pair of teammates trying to secure a doubles and team victory.
For the second time, Ottumwa was denied the chance to celebrate a walk-off win. The Bulldogs fell to Des Moines Roosevelt in a CIML Metro thriller, 6-5, in a match that came down to a tight couple of games in the No. 3 doubles match.
The Roughrider duo of Anna Fish and Emma Brown redeemed a pair of losses in singles play by taking a 6-4, 6-4 win over Jennifer Klodt and Andi Helgerson. Fish and Brown rallied in both sets to win, winning the final three games to avoid a match-deciding super-tiebreaker.
“It was a nailbiter,” Ottumwa head coach Emily Phommachack said. The Bulldogs last loss also came by a 6-5 score, 12 nights ago at Waukee.
It was a tough end to what had been a good night for Klodt. The Bulldogs’ No. 5 singles player started the comeback attempt for Ottumwa after outlasting Fish in a battle decided on a 10-8 tiebreaking third set after Roosevelt took the top four singles matches.
“Jennifer is playing really well this year,” Phommachack said. “She’s already won two matches this season in tiebreakers and she had some great volleys at the net to give us a chance in that doubles match.”
On a night where the top stars struggled for Ottumwa, the Bulldogs nearly rallied thanks to their depth. Klodt’s win came after an earlier dominant performance by Jill Ardueser in the No. 6 singles match, as she beat Brown, 6-1, 6-2.
After getting Ottumwa on the board, Ardueser teamed up with senior Rachel Hinebaugh to win a much tougher doubles match. The Bulldogs’ No. 4 doubles team won 6-3, 2-6, 10-6 to pull Ottumwa even for the first time in the meet at 4-4.
“Jill really got things going in dominant fashion. She controlled her singles match from start to finish,” Phommachack said.
Roosevelt got a 5-4 lead with a win by their top doubles tandem of Mary Hall and Meera Prasad, but another pair of young talents gave Ottumwa a chance to win at the end. Hayli Beeson and Katie Zingg easily swept Katie Roat and Maryn Garney 6-0, 6-1 in the No. 5 doubles match.
“Beeson and Zingg were also very convincing in their win,” Phommachack said. “That’s a combination that is very aggressive and plays very consistent tennis.”
The Bulldog girls (2-3, 1-1) will look to regroup on a special night at Staggs Courts Thursday against Indianola. Ottumwa faces the Indians on Senior Night at 4 p.m.
Phommachack hopes her team has learned a lot from their last two losses. There’s a good chance they’ll need it for what could be another dual decided very late.
“Hopefully, we can win this one on Senior Night. We’re due one of these tight wins,” Phommachack said.
DES MOINES ROOSEVELT 6, OTTUMWA 5
No. 1 — Mary Hall (Roosevelt) def. Ashley Salgado (Ottumwa) 6-1, 6-1. No. 2 — Meera Prasad (DMR) def. Katie Hicks (O) 6-0, 6-1. No. 3 — Sarah Willett (DMR) def. Mary Paluska (O) 6-3, 6-2. No. 4 — Ellie Hemminger (DMR) def. Kelsey Granneman (O) 6-3, 6-4. No. 5 — Jennifer Klodt (O) def. Anna Fish (DMR) 4-6, 6-1, 10-8. No. 6 — Jill Ardueser (O) def. Emma Brown (DMR) 6-1, 6-2.
No. 1 — Hall and Prasad (DMR) def. Salgado and Granneman (O) 6-0, 6-3. No. 2 — Hicks and Paluska (O) def. Willett and Hemminger (DMR) 6-0, 6-2. No. 3 — Brown and Fish (DMR) def. Klodt and Andi Helgerson (O) 6-4, 6-4. No. 4 — Ardueser and Rachel Hinebaugh (O) def. Andrea Harland and Jenna Pokerney (DMR) 6-3, 2-6, 10-6. No. 5 — Hayli Beeson and Katie Zingg (O) def. Katie Roat and Maryn Garney (DMR) 6-0, 6-1.