Bobcat boys pick off neighboring Grinnell, 6-5

The deciding match had already been won a couple courts down to clinch the meet for the Bobcats, but Kalei Platt and Ryley Faircloth relentlessly fought as if the final decision rest in their hands.

The No. 2 doubles tandem eventually lost a super-tiebreaker 4-6, 6-3, (10-7), but the effort was indicative of the Bobcats’ tenacity all afternoon.

Taking three of five doubles matches and winning a pair of super-tiebreakers in come-from-behind fashion, the Marshalltown boys’ tennis team held off Grinnell, 6-5, at the MHS Courts Monday.

Vincent Zavala-Livengood rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, (10-4) victory at No. 6 singles to even the meet at 3-3 before Tony Smith and Joe Cahill clinched the victory with a 4-6, 6-1, (10-4) triumph at No. 5 doubles.

“Vince had a monster victory at No. 6 singles, and Cahill and Smith had a monster victory too to seal the meet for us,” MHS coach James Christensen said. “It would have been nice to get that last one and win 7-4, but (Platt and Faircloth) fought hard and played well.

“Top to bottom we played really good tennis. We played better tennis than we did last week and the week before that. I can definitely see them improving each week and that’s all we can hope for right now.”

Platt cruised to a convincing 6-0, 6-1 rout over Kirk Rudolph at No. 1 singles and Andrew Walker earned a 6-1, 6-3 decision against Adam Van Erswelde at the No. 3 spot, though the Bobcats (3-5) still trailed 3-2 overall with Zavala-Livengood trying to even the score on court No. 6.

Rebounding in the second set to knot the match at a set apiece with Grinnell’s Nathan Oster, Zavala-Livengood trailed 4-3 in the tiebreaker before rattling off the next seven points to pull away.

The sophomore has had a flair for the dramatic with comeback victories though Christensen hopes Zavala-Livengood can impose his will in matches a bit earlier.

“I verified with him after the match that he does know you can win in just two sets,” Christensen said with a grin. “He tends to draw things out and make it difficult on us coaches but his competitiveness (is great). He loses the first set, he forgets about it and moves on. These last two matches he’s been able to come back and steal some victories.”

Zavala-Livengood and Beau Ragland rolled to a 6-3, 6-3 decision at No. 3 doubles, while the No. 4 duo of Kade Vopava and Brandin Chaloupek won 6-3, 6-4.

With Grinnell (5-2) in control at No. 1 doubles, attention shifted to the No. 5 match where Smith and Cahill dominated the second set to force a tiebreaker with the clinching point of the meet within reach for the Bobcats.

The Marshalltown duo didn’t leave it up to chance.

Back-to-back aces from Smith and a volley smash from Cahill stretched their lead to 8-1 and the MHS tandem wrapped up the win by a 10-4 margin.

Marshalltown’s JV added a convincing 14-2 victory and served as a reminder that several varsity spots are far from safe.

“That bodes well for our future,” Christensen said of the JV win. “That’s one of our better JV wins this year and those guys are fighting everyday in practice. The amount of competitiveness is amazing and it’s driving them to be better tennis players.”

Christensen admitted there will be some additional movement in the varsity lineup for today’s meet at Ames – and it likely won’t be the last time either.

“The guys at the bottom end of our varsity know they can’t have a bad match because there’s 10 guys waiting to take their spot,” Christen said. “Everybody is on their toes, which is good.”

Like Marshalltown, the Little Cyclones endured an exodus of seniors from their varsity lineup heading into this season though they still boast several players that picked up some varsity experience a year ago.

“It’s going to take our best tennis of the year,” Christensen said of trying to pull the upset. “They’re a young team, but they’ve got quite a bit of experienceOur guys circled this date on the calendar a long time ago so we’re ready for it.”

Notebook

Platt and Faircloth led 4-1 in their No. 2 doubles tiebreaker but Grinnell won the next five points and took the lead for good at 8-7. Today’s match at Ames starts at 4 p.m. … Grinnell’s only other loss of the season came against Boone.