OTTUMWA — Big Smiles, hugs, congratulatory remarks, smiles and more hugs greeted Kelsey Granneman and Ashley Salgado after the Bulldog duo won the doubles tournament at the Class 2A Regional singles and doubles meet Thursday.
And they also posed for pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. But sustaining a grin wasn’t too hard for the pair after their insipired performances on the tennis court.
“I haven’t seen a doubles team in a long time do such a great job of communication,” head coach Emily Phommachack said.
The Bulldog duo’s competition learned all about the girls’ communication skills — along with all the other intangibles that make Salgado and Granneman such a formidable team. The girls, who went into the tournament seeded No. 2, claimed first overall with three dominating performances; earning themselves a state tournament berth.
“I think this is really the highlight of our season,” Granneman said. “We played really well, today.”
Indeed, they did.
The pair decimated Alix Hanger and Bailey Galvin of Burlington in the second round 6-0, 6-2 after receiving a first-round bye.
In the semifinals, the pair took on Jenny Clark and Brittani Langland of Iowa City West; a No. 3 seed.
The pair had to win this match to qualify for state — and they didn’t waste any time getting down to business. The girls led the first set 5-2 after a lob by Salgado scraped the baseline.
A backhand smash at the net by Granneman combined with a few other solid shots helped the girls win the next game and take the set, 6-2.
Ottumwa picked up where they left off in first in the second set by winning the first three games. Salgado peppered the court with hard backhand strokes near the net that her opponents could only somberly watch as they flew by.
“The whole point of doubles is to get up to the net, and they do a really good job of working toward that,” Phommochack said.
Salgado continued to torment her opponents with nasty backhands near the net — and by appearing to be an ubiquitous presence on the court — while Granneman overwhelmed the Trojans with strong put-aways. Ottumwa ended up taking the set 6-1, earning them a spot at the state tournament.
The Bulldog duo, however, wasn’t satisfied with merely qualifying for state — they figured they might as well just win the whole thing.
Their next opponents were Olivia Lofgren and Elena Wilson, another West team, and the No. 1 seed in the tourney.
Lofgren and Wilson had handily defeated Ottumwa’s Andi Helgerson and Jennifer Klodt 6-0, 6-0 earlier in the day in the quarterfinals.
Granneman and Salgado started strong, winning four of the first five games.
Later, Salgado scored on a sharply hit forehand down the right alley. Then Granneman smashed a hard volley the Trojan duo was unable to return. The Ottumwa girls continued to dominate and won the set, 6-2.
Salgado and Granneman once again jumped out to a sizeable lead in the second set, going up 5-2. In the next game, Granneman faked like she going to smash a shot at the net before hitting a gentle drop shot that Iowa City West’s players were unable to return. The Bulldog pair went on to win the game, set and match with a 6-2 victory.
In singles action, No. 2 seed Eve Small from Iowa City defeated No. 1 seed Angie Allgood from Muscatine 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 in a grueling finals match that lasted for more than three hours.
In other area regional singles and doubles action, Oskaloosa’s Amanda Stefanik defeated Albia’s Savannah Belcher 6-0, 6-0 in the Class 1A, Region 8 finals, held at Pella Christian. Both Stefanik and Belcher will advance to the state tournament in singles play.
In Class 2A at Ottumwa, Ottumwa’s Mary Paluska edged Burlington’s Victoria Lazar 7-5, 6-0 in the first round of singles play, but she fell to Small 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
“[Small] hit it really hard so I tried battling back with her as hard as I could, too,” Paluska said, “But she’s got some good shots.”
Before falling to the No. 1 seed, Ottumwa’s Helgerson and Klodt netted a 6-4, 6-1 win over Ahmi Dhuna and Angela Jennings of Burlington.
“We are just good at working together, that’s all,” Helgerson said.
In singles play, the Bulldogs’ Katie Hicks fell to West’s Jans 6-2, 6-4.
The entire Bulldog team will compete in the Class 2A Regional Team Finals Saturday at Pleasant Valley.
Singles & Doubles
Area Regional Finals Matches
Champions and Runners-up qualify for state tournament
Region 8 at Ottumwa
Eve Small (Iowa City High/Iowa City Regina) over Angie Allgood (Muscatine/Wilton) 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-1
Ashley Salgado & Kelsey Granneman (Ottumwa) over Olivia Lofgren & Elena Wilson (Iowa City West/Clear Creek-Amana) 6-2, 6-2
Region 7 at Iowa City
Jalyn Deering (Camanche) over Kylie Vogel (Camanche) 6-0, 6-4
Emily Lewis & Ashley Tinguely (Holy Trinity) over Kristin Lord & Al Dixon (Camanche) 6-0, 6-3
Region 8 at Pella Christian
Amanda Stefanik (Oskaloosa) over Savannah Belcher (Albia) 6-0, 6-0
Aubree Else & Kayla DeBruin (Pella Christian) over Megan VanKooten & Paige Engbers (Pella Christian) 6-3, 6-1