Fort Dodge St. Edmond's nips Cherokee, 5-4
FORT DODGE - A thrilling and courageous three-set match at number two doubles just missed going in Cherokee's favor here on May 17th, allowing the home team , the Fort Dodge St. Edmond's Gaels, to escape with a tense 5-4 team victory over the Cherokee Braves in Class 1A Substate boys tennis action.
Even though each Cherokee loss contributed to the St. Edmond's win, the number two doubles match was the last one contested, and had both Cherokee and Fort Dodge fans on the edge of their seats throughout.
In that grueling two-hour match, Gaels Bryan Michael Hancock and Jay Bunte held on to defeat Cherokee's Nick Parker and Cole Renken 7-6 (8-6 tie-breaker), 4-6, 7-5.
In other doubles action, Cherokee's number one team of Cole Egger and Kyle Ruehle handled St. Edmond's Bryan Huss and John Engler 1-6, 6-2, 7-5; and Cherokee's Daniel Feser and Tom Wilson lost 1-6, 2-6 to brothers Jordan Harvey and Jon Harvey.
In singles action for Cherokee, junior Egger beat Huss 6-1, 6-4 at number one, senior Ruehle lost 2-6, 4-6 to Hancock at two, sophomore Renken beat John Engler 7-6 (7-5 tie-breaker), 6-1 at three, senior Wilson lost 4-6, 1-6 to Jay Bunte at four, sophomore Parker beat Connor Mulhuland 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 at five, and freshman Alex Struck lost 1-6, 5-7 to Jon Harvey at six.
"It would be difficult to have scripted a closer meet without having the critics pan the episode for having a plot that was far too unrealistic," said Cherokee coach Dave Zelle, while waxing philosophical. "With two tie-breakers, three 3-set matches, and the final outcome of the meet hanging on a 7-5 third-set in the final match on the courts more than four hours after the meet began, the fans got their money's worth. Even the fickle Iowa weather was perfect.
"After splitting the singles matches 3-3, we needed two doubles wins and that left all the pressure on Renken and Parker in their marathon match. It was an epic battle, but St. Ed's prevailed in the end.
"I was really looking forward to a re-match with Spencer (Substate champs). Even though they had beaten us twice, they were very competitive matches. Spencer is beatable, and a Substate winner is guaranteed at least a fourth-place finish in the state. That would not have been a bad way to cap off a really good season!"
The Braves finished runner-up to Spencer in the rugged Lakes Conference this season.
Sporting a 13-2 record, the number one doubles team of Egger and Ruehle, Distrcit champions, play this weeken (May 23-24) in the Boys State Tournament in Waterloo.