Boys tennis: Ottumwa scores late wins in dual loss to Roosevelt

Apr. 19—OTTUMWA — Josh Shoemaker has somewhat modest goals this season.

"One of the goals I set for myself this season was to go undefeated," Shoemaker said. "So far, I'm living up to it."

The Ottumwa senior improved to 4-0 on the season on Monday, earning his toughest win yet this year. After being pushed into a decisive third-set super-tiebreaker, Shoemaker pulled away late to edge Kanoa Lin in the No. 5 singles match between the Bulldog and Des Moines Roosevelt boys tennis teams to clinch a 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7) win for the Bulldogs.

The win by Shoemaker was one of three matches in singles play decided in a super-tiebreaker. Despite winning three of the five tiebreakers that helped decide matches throughout the showdown of Iowa Alliance Conference south division rivals, Ottumwa could not overcome losing four of five doubles matches against the Roughriders in a 7-4 dual loss at Jon Kneen Courts.

"The effort was 100 percent there by our guys," Ottumwa head boys tennis coach Joe Roberts said. "When you have five tiebreakers, three of which decided matches, that's tight tennis. If we just play a certain point differently in any match, we could have swung this dual in a completely different direction."

It was another dual for the Bulldogs that was more competitive than the final score would indicate. Ottumwa first dual loss of the season, an 8-3 setback to Waukee, featured three sets won by the Warriors in singles play that were decided by 7-5 scores.

Against Roosevelt, Ottumwa had four sets that were decided by scores of 6-4 along with the five tiebreakers in the dual. The Bulldogs split those sets, including a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Roosevelt in the No. 4 doubles match and a third-set tiebreaker loss suffered by Moses Merrill in the No. 6 singles match, two sets that easily could have turned the dual around in favor of Ottumwa.

"I still think we have a lot to fight for. We still have a lot to prove as a program," Roberts said. "We're still a very competitive team. There's still a few hurdles we need to go over. The mental hurdle is something a few of my players are still struggling with."

Logan Storto was part of tiebreaker wins both in doubles and singles play against Roosevelt. The Ottumwa junior teamed up with Toby Schmidt to put away a two-set sweep in the top doubles match against Roughrider teammates Will bright and Jack Kehoe with an 8-6 win in the second-set tiebreaker to clinch a 6-4, 7-6 victory, preventing Roosevelt from sweeping through all five doubles matches.

"Toby and I were really on a roll in the first half of the match, then we kind of hit a dead spot and got down on ourselves a little," Storto said. "We pushed through it, got our hopes back up and started playing really well. Leaning on each other and supporting each other really helped us put away those final points."

Schmidt and Storto helped Ottumwa finish off the dual against the Roughriders on a winning note. Schmidt swept Bright in the top singles match, 6-2 and 6-1, while Storto bounced back from a 6-4 loss in the opening set of the No. 2 singles match forcing a super-tiebreaker with a 6-4 win in the second set before dominating the third set winning 10-3 over Teegan Van Ngoy.

"I was letting my anger get to me midway through the match. I just had to use my anger with me to help me hit my shots well," Storto said. "I just wanted to move (Van Ngoy) around and make him tired. If you do that long enough, you'll be able to force a bad shot or hit it past them to win the point."

Schmidt secured Ottumwa's only win on Wednesday during a triangular with Marshalltown and Mason City, winning a pair of 7-5 sets in the top singles match with the Bobcats. Schmidt was part of a pair of tiebreakers in Ottumwa's 11-0 loss to Mason City, falling 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4) in the top singles match to Reed Kruger before dropping a 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) decision to Kruger and Justin Yarahmadi in the top doubles match against the Riverhawks.

The busy week for Ottumwa (2-4, 1-1 Iowa Alliance south) concluded with trip to Des Moines to face Hoover and Lincoln before competing at the Pella Invitational over the weekend. The Bulldogs returns home for three matches next week, hosting Des Moines East on Tuesday, Ames on Thursday and Burlington on Friday.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.