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Girls tennis: Ottumwa wraps up regular season

May 7—OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa High School girls tennis team had no guarantees last week that they'd be playing another match at home.

As it turned out, they were simply playing their last match of the season at Jon Kneen Courts. Come Friday, Ottumwa will looking to avoid closing out a campaign while ushering in a new era for the Bulldog tennis program.

Ottumwa will host Burlington on Friday morning in the first round of the Class 2A, Region 4 team tennis tournament. The matches, like Saturday's scheduled 2A substate boys team tournament, are scheduled to be played on the brand-new Dan Staggs Family Tennis Courts located just north of Ottumwa High School.

Baring any delays, the Ottumwa girls will be playing their final home match of this season on the courts the Bulldogs will look to call home for several seasons to come. It's just one more selling point that Bulldog head coach Leanna White hopes will continue to spark interest in the sport and a team that many have come to enjoy playing for over the years.

"The girls always tell me if they come out for their season years that they wish they'd come out for all four years of high school," White said. "I've tried. I always tell the girls how much fun it is to be part of this team. It is fun to see those kids that finally come out, but there are some kids I just wish I could have coached for all four years just see how much they could have developed."

The last matches of the season for the Bulldogs at the three-court Ottumwa Country Club facility came last Tuesday during an Iowa Alliance Conference south division dual with Des Moines Hoover that was initially rained out earlier in the month. The timing worked out well as Ottumwa was able to honor their four seniors, allowing all four to participate with other players stepping into new roles in a line-up that ultimately produced an 11-0 sweep of the Huskies.

"It was a great chance to get several people that don't normally play in our varsity line-up a chance to play," White said. "Even though Jaslyn (Parsypo) and Hunter (Caldwell) play in our line-up, they played the No. 2 doubles match for the first time and did a great job together. Ashlyn (Hough) and Jenna (Linsted) don't normally play in the No. 3 doubles match, but they were also able to step up and get a win for us."

Parsypo and Caldwell swept Thoi Te and Jaycie Johnson, 6-1 and 6-0, while Hough and Linsted scored a 6-0, 6-2 win over Sylviah Ho and Genesis Perez-Ambrocio. Giselle Cordova and Naw Clay, two more Bulldog players that are slated to be back next year, also came together to score a 6-1, 6-0 sweep in the No. 4 doubles match.

While several young Ottumwa players gained winning experience, Bulldog seniors also came together to produce wins in doubles play. Julia Cordon Diaz de Entresotos joined Elli Bishop for the first time this season to compete in the top doubles match for the Bulldogs, winning 6-2 and 6-1.

Allie Porter and Samantha Khamphilanouvong also helped each other score debuts in what may very well be the only varsity matches for the two seniors. Playing in the No. 5 doubles match, Porter and Khamphilanouvong won a pair of tough sets edging Say Paw and Par Len 7-5 in the opening set and 7-6 in the second set, pulling out a 7-5 tiebreaker.

"It was quite a match for my one and only varsity debut," Potter said. "I wasn't really nervous until we started playing and I realized just how close it was going to be. I started to feel more pressure and got more nervous. Samantha and I kept talking to each other during those tough games. We tried to keep each other smiling and keep each other upbeat."

Potter made her return to the sport of tennis this season after playing prior to high school. Once in high school, Potter turned her attention to playing for the Bulldog girls golf team during the spring before deciding to reunite both with the sport and her former coach during her final spring sports season of high school.

"I used to play (tennis) in the summers with Coach White when I was little," Potter said. "It's been a little bumpy getting back out there after so many years away, but it's gotten better as the season has gone along. I've enjoyed being a part of the team a lot. There are so many nice girls. I've made a lot of good friends.

"Allie is one of those players I've been trying to get out for tennis since her freshman year," White said. "I wish I could have had her for all four years. I think she could have developed into a nice player."

Ottumwa wrapped up the Iowa Alliance Conference south division portion of the season last Wednesday, falling 9-2 at Des Moines Roosevelt. Ava Barnes secured a win in the No. 4 singles match for the Bulldogs, sweeping Sofia Valdez 6-0 and 6-2, before joining Emerson Keith to sweep Valdez and Ingrid Alg-Liening 6-4 and 7-5 in the No. 2 doubles match.

"We were missing Jordan (Lee) and Elli, which moved all of our players up two spots in singles," White said. "Nellie fought hard in the No. 2 singles match (losing 6-4, 6-7 (5), 1-0 (8) to Cate Bright) and Jaslyn came back after losing the first set (6-1 to Noma Rodgers) to make the match super close (losing 7-5 in the second set). Hunter also played her first varsity singles match and had so many deuce points."

Cordon Diaz de Entresotos and Morgan also battled in a tough top doubles match, falling to Bright and Scarlett Brown 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 with a 10-5 loss in the third-set super-tiebreaker. Hough and Linsted also battled into a second-set tiebreaker for Ottumwa in the No. 4 doubles match, falling 6-2 and 7-6 (7-2) to Meredith Russell and Sophia Whitehead.

"Overall, everyone stepped up into positions they aren't used to playing and played tough against their opponents," White said. "That shows me what a bright future we have ahead."

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