By ANDY HEINTZ Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA —The Ottumwa boys tennis team picked up a huge 7-4 victory over CIML Metro Conference rival Indianola Friday at Dan Staggs Courts.
"This is probably our biggest test in the Metro this year so this is a big step toward winning the Metro," Ottumwa boys tennis coach Alan Paris said. "This was a big victory for us and the kids knew they wanted to really focus on this match, and, basically, they focused pretty well."
The Bulldogs went 4-2 in singles' competition and 3-2 in doubles play. In an uber-competitive match, Sam Kramer fought off a stiff challenge from Shane Pruett in No. 4 singles action. After Kramer cruised to a relatively easy 6-2 win in the first set, Pruett evened the match at one set apiece with a 7-5 triumph in the second set. The Indianola player appeared to have the momentum near the end of the third-set tiebreaker, as Kramer showed visible signs of frustration. During one sequence, Kramer looked like he was on his way to a sure point, as he had Pruett running all over the court flagging down his drives, but his forehand smash at the net was too deep. Moments later, Pruett scored with a nicely placed lob.
But, with the match tied at 7-7, Kramer dug down deep and came up with some offense. He scored the next point, and the next, and then Pruett sent the next volley into the net — tiebreaker, match, Kramer.
Seth White had one of his finest performances of the season, as he handily defeated Britton Vanderlinden 6-3, 6-0 in No. 5 singles action.
"I was hitting my backhand pretty well today," White said.
As to why everything came together for him on this day, White offered his own hypothesis.
"It's finally warm out, maybe that's it," White said.
With five victories in the bag, the No. 4 doubles team of Nick Sedore and Mitch Buller clinched a team victory for the Bulldogs with a 7-5, 6-2 triumph over John Cassady and Trey Kuehl. To prevail in the first set, the pair had to overcome their opposition's lob-heavy strategy.
"They were using a lot of lobs on us and that kind of played to their advantage," Buller said, "because they always hit it really deep and it's hard to hit a high ball when it's deep in the court."
"We had to just keep hitting it back, that's kind of the key to tennis," Sedore added.
Things weren't nearly as taxing in the second set, as the Bulldog duo sailed to an easy victory. One area where the pair were especially effective was on their serves.
"My serves were on fire today, I think," Buller said.
Sedore also enjoyed success in singles action, blasting Mason Schreck 6-2, 6-3 in No. 6 singles play.
Although they ended up taking the loss, the No. 1 doubles team of Steve and Zack Ray put forth a valiant effort against the formidable Indian team of Jackson Guildford, a imposing physical presence on the court with powerful linebacker-esque legs; and his tall, lanky teammate Lukas Georgeff. The conspicously smaller Ottumwa pair gave their larger opponents all they could handle and then some, but the Indians finally prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
The Ray brothers play sharpened as the game progressed and by the end of the match, they were really in sync. During one volley, Zack, who had positioned himself by the net, lurched to his right and returned a hard blast with a cross-court winner. In the waning moments of the match, Zack snapped a backhand that looked like a sure point but, somehow, Georgeff managed to return and it and Steve netted his return, setting up a match-point situation. Then Guildford put the Ray brothers away with a devastatingly good lob. Though one team had to lose, both duos packed the match with highlight-worthy moments.
Earlier in the day, however, Zack got the better of Georgeff in No. 2 singles competiton, thrashing his opponent 6-2, 6-2.
In other action, the No. 5 doubles team of Michael Phippin and Isaac Goodman dismantled Nochvay Ruvim and Jared Cortum 6-0, 6-2.
Ottumwa plays at 4 p.m. Monday at the Maharishi School of the Age of Englightenment.
Ottumwa 7, Indianola 4
No. 1 — Jackson Guildford (I) def. Steve Ray 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 — Zack Ray (O) def. Lukas Georgeff 6-2, 6-2; No. 3 —James McConnell def. Jared Bohlmann 6-0, 7-5; No. 4 — Sam Kramer (O) def. Shane Pruett 6-2, 5-7 (10-7) No. 5 — Seth White (O) def. Britton Vanderlinden 6-3, 6-0; No. 6 — Nick Sedore (O) def. Mason Schreck 6-2, 6-3.
No. 1 — Guildford/Georgeff (I) def. S. Ray/Z. Ray 7-5, 7-6 (7-5); No. 2 — Bohlmann-Kramer (O)def. McConnell/Pruett 6-0, 6-2; No. 3 — Pruett/Britton (I) def. White/Alec Maas 4-6, 6-4 (10-5). No. 4 — Sedore/Mitch Buller (O) def. John Cassady/Trey Kuehl 7-5, 6-2; No. 5 — Michael Pippin/Isaac Goodman (O) def. Nochvay Ruvim/Jared Cortum 6-0, 6-2 .