For over three hours on Tuesday, Jennifer Klodt wasn't going to let the Ankeny Hawkettes leave Ottumwa without a fight.
Fight is exactly what Klodt and the rest of the Bulldog girls tennis team showed throughout the day no matter what the final score may have said.
In the end, Ankeny pulled out four of five doubles matches to pull away from Ottumwa with a 7-4 dual victory at Dan Staggs Courts. For those that stuck around for most of the night, however, it certainly didn't appear like it would be anywhere close to that.
Throughout singles play, the Bulldogs and Hawkettes took turns exchanging wins. The culimination of that back-and-forth came when Klodt and Ankeny freshman Eryn Reysack battled into a thrilling No. 2 singles affair that wasn't decided until the final two points of an ultimate tiebreaking third set.
And with a long shot into the corner and an even nicer drop shot, Klodt picked up a well-earned 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 win that brought the Bulldogs a split of the six singles matches.
"Jennifer battled once again," Ottumwa head girls tennis coach Emily Phommachak said. "She just stayed mentally and physically tough."
That was a common theme for the day for the Bulldog girls tennis team, who found themsleves pushed into another couple of third-set tiebreakers when doubles play came about. Ankeny's No. 5 duo of Rita Bolshkakova and Alyssa Sporrer picked up the first of those victories, earning a thrilling 11-9 win in the third set over Anna Graeff and sophomore Caroline Carlson, who was a late substitute for junior Abagail Messer.
"For Anna and Caroline to be playing together for the first time, I thought they communicated really well," Phommachak said. "They were both aggressive. They did everything they could to win that match."
That loss, along with a 6-3, 6-3 setback suffered by the Bulldogs' No. 3 duo of Beth Overturf and Katie Zingg, put Ottumwa in a desperate state with Sydney Grooms and Megan Black facing the second third-set tiebreak. With the Bulldogs needing to win to keep the hope of a team victory alive, the No. 4 doubles duo owned the deciding set with a 10-2 domination of Ankeny's Michelle Temeyer and Kiley Spoth.
"That's another team of ours that really communicates well," Phommachak said. "Megan and Sydney played the net really well."
Unfortunately, Ankeny was able to put away the win by taking the top two doubles matches. Reysack had the last laugh over Klodt as she and No. 2 doubles teammate Olivia Coe beat Hayli Beeson and Jill Arduser while Klodt and Kelsey Granneman also fell to Nicole Bramow and Emily Coe to close the night out for the 1-2 Bulldogs.
"It's difficult to improve when we don't get to practice our weak parts of the game," Phommachak said. "I was still happy with how the girls played. Ankeny is a quality and competitive team. We played right with them."
Ottumwa will get their first chance to compete in CIML Metro action on Thursday. The Bulldogs host Des Moines Hoover in their first conference dual at Staggs Courts at 4 p.m.