CLINTON — When finally there was room to breathe, the River Queens could only cheer.
The state of Iowa’s team tennis championship came all the way down to a grueling, 11-point doubles tiebreaker with Clinton’s Jordan Nelson and Gabby Haan eyeing glory against Urbandale’s Brynn Reichardt and Kayla Dinshaw. The Queens were hours removed from overcoming the toughest challenge they’d yet to face -- second seed Ames High School -- where, in the semifinals of the Class 2A state team tournament, they’d narrowly grinded out a 5-4 victory.
The ball was in Nelson’s hand, with the team score tied 4-4, meaning the winner of the tiebreaker would seal the top prize for her team.
“We were down 1-4 in the second set and we came back and tied it,” Nelson said. “The tiebreaker was super close. I went back to the back fence, and Gabby came back and started talking to me, encouraging me.
“I thought to myself, ‘I need to get this... I need to win this for my team...’”
Nelson stepped up to the line and ripped, what coach Cindy Rashe said was a serve “so hard, they didn’t have a prayer of touching it.” Game. Set. Championship.
“I throw my racket down and run to Gabby,” Nelson said. “I was so excited.”
Haan and Nelson were joined by their raucous teammates. A day later, they returned to Clinton High bearing medals around their necks, smiling ear-to-ear and with a community ready to praise them. It’s the first team tennis title in Clinton history.
On Sunday, Athletic Director Gary Lueders and superintendent Deb Olson joined to congratulate them in the high school auditorium. Olson, an avid CHS tennis admirer, stated the end result was well-deserved for the hard working coaching staff and players.