OTTUMWA — Senior Night didn't start off well for Josie Young.
Camilla Murillo handed Young a 6-1 loss in the opening set of the No. 3 singles match between the Ottumwa and Des Moines Lincoln girls tennis teams. If it took all night, however, Young was determined not to end a night such a special night on a sour note.
"That was my motivation after losing that first set. It's Senior Night. There's no way I'm going to blow my Senior Night," Young said. "Coming back from that first set felt so good."
Fittingly, it was Young that scored the final point of Thursday's Senior Night CIML Metro conference dual. After coming back to win a third-set tiebreaker against Murillo 10-7, Young and senior teammate Josie Vonderhaar clinched a 9-2 win for the Bulldogs, winning another third-set tiebreaker 11-9 in the No. 2 doubles match against Murillo and Heather Leek as Young slammed home match point at the net.
"I'd been waiting all night for a shot like that. If I had to play all night, I was going to do it to get the win," Young said. "I had my family here. My teachers were here. It was a good Senior Night to get to come through like that."
There was plenty of tennis for everyone to enjoy in a dual that last well over three hours. The Bulldogs came through when it truly counted against the Railsplitters, winning seven of the eight different tiebreakers that were held during the dual including all five 10-point tiebreakers that ultimately decided a match.
"We have been so many times this year to the point of playing at deuce with a point to decide a game or a tiebreaker to decide a set and haven't come out on the winning side," Ottumwa head girls tennis coach Leanna Nelson said. "We really haven't had a chance to put them in those pressure situations during practice, so it's nice to see the girls finally finishing things we haven't been able to finish in the past."
Young and Vonderhaar were both pushed into tiebreakers during singles play. Vonderhaar, however, was able to avoid a decisive third-set 10-point breaker by winning the race to seven in the second set taking a 7-4 win that clinched a 6-2, 7-6 sweep in the No. 4 singles match over Jayda Terry.
That win came within minutes of three clutch wins that helped Ottumwa clinch the dual. Kiley Heller would join Young in winning the first of two third-set tiebreakers in singles play, edging Anna Egkhounmoung 10-5 in the No. 2 match, while Addison Grade completed a tough sweep of singles play for the Bulldogs winning 10-8 in her third set over Leek in the No. 4 singles match.
"It tells a lot about what we've been pushing for all season, which is kind of keeping that positive mindset throughout a match," Nelson said. "When you do split sets or when you come to that tiebreaker to finish the match, sometimes it's all up there in your mind. The question is there as to whether you can do it or not.
"To see the girls come away with the positive mindset and work through those crucial points is huge, especially at this point of the season where we're kind of coming down to the point where it is going to matter whether we can win those crucial points or not."
Ally Paris and Heller shook off a 6-4 second-set loss to Natalie Gonzalez and Egkhounmoung, bouncing back after losing a 6-1, 3-0 lead to win 10-6 in the first of two third-set tiebreaks that took place in doubles play. Young and Vonderhaar clinched the final win, securing an emotional win for the only senior teammates to compete together in doubles play.
"Josie and I have never been doubles partners until this year. It feels good to be teamed up with her, especially after not knowing if we could have been partners last year," Young said. "Whether it's Josie-Josie, or J-squared, Josie-squared, whatever you want to call our team, it feels good to be able to team up with her on the court."
Ottumwa (4-3, 3-0 CIML Metro) heads to the Pella Tournament on Saturday. Young will team with Grade to compete in doubles play along with Paris and Heller while Beverly Bishop and Gissellen Turrado will test themselves in the singles portion of the tournament.
"It's all about keeping perspective this weekend," White said. "It's all about keeping that positive mindset."
Ottumwa 9, Des Moines Lincoln 2
Ally Paris (O) def. Natalie Gonzalez (L), 6-1, 6-3; Kiley Heller (O) def. Anna Egkhounmuong (L), 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (10-5); Josie Young (O) def. Camilla Murillo (L), 1-6, 6-0, 1-0 (10-7); Addison Grade (O) def. Heather Leek (L), 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8); Josie Vonderhaar (O) def. Jayda Terry (L), 6-2, 7-6 (4); Beverly Bishop (O) def. Knyaw Paw (L), 6-0, 6-3.
Paris and Heller (O) def. Gonzalez and Egkhounmuong (L), 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6); Young and Vonderhaar (O) def. Leek and Murillo (L), 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (11-9); Grade and Bishop (O) def. Terry and Lily Nguyen (L), 6-2, 6-2; Paw and Katie Combs (L) def. Delanie Handling and Madison Stinson (O), 6-3, 6-1; Geniss Hernandez-Cruz and Tessa Trimble (L) def. Gissellen Turrado and Hannah Lisk (O), 7-6 (7), 6-3.