The last two matches on the court served as a subtle reminder that nothing is won until the final point is scored.
The Marshalltown boys' tennis team came within two third-set super-tiebreakers of sweeping Des Moines Hoover in Monday's regular-season finale, hammering the Huskies 9-2 in cross-CIML play at MHS.
The Bobcats (6-4) won all six singles matches by straight sets to seal the dual meet, and the first three doubles bouts to finish were also in Marshalltown's favor.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
MHS junior Drayton Lents makes a backhanded return at the net during No. 2 doubles action on Monday against Des Moines Hoover.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
The last two marathon matches dodged the Bobcats in the end, as both super-tiebreakers were decided by the minimum two-point margin.
"Nine-to-two is nothing to be too upset about," grinned MHS head coach James Christensen. "We played very well in singles today and the first three doubles matches finished in our favor. The last two were really close, we just couldn't get that final point we needed."
Marshalltown's march through singles competition against a hapless Hoover bunch made the doubles outcome irrelevant in terms of the dual, but with Class 2A district competition lurking for Thursday, Christensen was hoping an 11-0 sweep of the Huskies would give the team more steam for the postseason.
"Tie-breakers are huge, they're huge," he said. "In district play we play the whole three sets, so that hopefully might be in our favor the way some of our super-tiebreaks have gone lately.
"But being able to be put in those pressure situations on a night like tonight is always good. It simulates some of the pressure they'll feel on Thursday."
That's the good news for the Bobcats' top doubles tandem of Alex Brada and Kyle Dalluge, who worked their way to a big lead in the super-tiebreaker but couldn't lock down the victory. Hoover's Anthony Kaiser and Matt Andorf rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, (12-10) decision.
"Hoover hasn't lost a lot of matches at No. 1 doubles this year, I think they might have only lost one," shrugged Christensen. "Kyle and Alex are a good team. I thought they were in the right position tonight, just failed to execute on a couple shots and that's something I'm confident they'll clean up for Thursday.
"Part of me hopes it does bother them just a little bit. They definitely won't be overconfident going into Thursday. I never want them to lose, obviously, but maybe tonight will be enough to spur them to take that next step in practice to get themselves ready for Thursday."
Brada and Dalluge, who are 7-3 in dual meet doubles play, both breezed through singles like the rest of the Bobcats. Adam Podhajsky posted a shutout at No. 5 doubles, Dalluge allowed only one game at No. 4, while Kalei Platt at No. 3 and Ben Anzis at No. 6 surrendered just two games to their Huskies counterparts.
Brada won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 singles to bolster his record at 8-2, while Marshalltown's only returning state qualifier from a year ago - Ryan Shomo - scored a 6-1, 6-2 triumph at No. 1 singles.
A pair of Bobcat seniors played their final match as the No. 5 doubles team. Kody Zuercher and Donovan Reyes upped their record to 6-3 with a 6-0, 6-1 rout of David Jordan and Owen Geiken.
Thursday's district play begins at approximately 9 a.m. at Linn-Mar High School in Marion. Other teams vying to advance in singles, doubles or dual team competition are Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Marshalltown and the host Lions.