DES MOINES — Depth and doubles play. It’s exactly what put the Ottumwa girls tennis team in position to run the table in the CIML Metro Conference play this season.
In what would be their final match of the season, the Bulldog girls gave their doubles a chance to send them off with a thrilling victory once again on Friday in a hard-fought battle with Des Moines Roosevelt. A dead-even split of six singles matches left the deciding contest for Metro supremacy in the hands of five final doubles matches.
With Roosevelt having won two of the first three in straight sets, two final matches went into third-set super tiebreakers. Needing both to win the match and an undisputed Metro crown, Ottumwa instead fell short by just six total points on the court as losses of 10-6 and 12-10 in decisive sets of the No. 2 and No. 4 doubles matches gave the Roughriders a hard-fought 7-4 win in the battle for the conference title with the Bulldogs.
“Neither team was ready to go down without a fight. It was a great battle for both teams to end things,” Ottumwa head girls tennis coach Emily Phommachack. “Our No. 4 doubles team (Caroline Carlson and Abagail Messer) have never played together, but the had great placement and Caroline served with great power. For the first time pairing up and to go to 12-10 in the final set is incredible.”
Juniors Jennifer Klodt, Hayli Beeson and Jill Ardueser all scored wins in their singles matches to get Ottumwa tied up at 3-3 going into doubles play. Another set of juniors, Sydney Grooms and Megan Black, picked up the lone doubles win for the Bulldogs with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Roosevelt all-senior No. 3 team of Kate Will and Andrea Nikic.
“They played so aggressive,” Phommachack said. “Megan set up Sydney with great lobs and Sydney attacked the net forcefully.”
The night brought to a close the Ottumwa tennis career of senior Kelsey Granneman, who played well by lost to Merra Prasad in the top singles match of the night 6-2, 6-4 before falling by the same score with Klodt to Prasad and Jenna Pokorny in the top doubles contest. While Ottumwa will have so many returning players back next year, Phommachack talked about the final night for Granneman going up against the state-qualifying Prasad.
“Kelsey played the best game of her life against a state qualifier and also didn’t go down without a fight in doubles,” Phommachack said. “She played extremely well in her final night of action. She’s been a great player for everyone to look up to.”