By Brenden West
Assistant Sports Editor
Even the casual observer could tell – Clinton’s Ryan Schroeder and Jacob Kruse were desperate to win it. On Saturday, during the No. 1 doubles championship, points won by the duo were followed by restrained fist pumps. Those lost coincided with curses and visible frustration.
The intensity brimmed when Kruse missed a volley and repeatedly smacked his right calf with his racket. With the score at 8-5, the match against Bettendorf’s Forrest Campbell and Bryce Brien was already in Clinton’s favor.
But the River Kings lost to this pair before. On April 4, Kruse-Schroeder dropped a close dual meet match to Bettendorf at home, and they said it left them with a sour taste.
“We wanted this match so bad, and we both knew it,” Kruse said. “We wanted this for our team and we wanted it as revenge. Progressing through the season really helped us today.”
Schroeder said: “Since we lost to them right away at the beginning of the season, we knew they were going to be big competition. It was super intense. We really wanted revenge.”
The match, as well as the day, went to Clinton. Kruse and Schroeder took the last two games, winning their bracket 10-7 and helping their team gut out a competitive home tournament to claim first place overall.
The second-place Bulldogs kept Clinton on the ropes throughout. Eight of nine finals matches featured a Clinton-Bettendorf showdown, despite the fact that six other teams competed.
Camanche coach Jeff Marsh had a first-person take:
“With Clinton and Bettendorf here, there’s no place to hide. They’re both so tough that it didn’t matter who we played,” he said after all three of his doubles teams lost to Clinton in the semifinals. The Indians finished fourth behind North Scott. Marsh said he was satisfied with the result considering the competition.
By midday, the Kings won two out of three doubles titles (beating Bettendorf 11-9 in No. 2). The singles tournament cranked up the drama, with five finals matches requiring at least 18 games to finish.
Despite their doubles performance, Kruse and Schroeder both lost tight No. 1 and No. 2 singles titles (respectively). North Scott’s Guillermo Rivas defeated Kruse 10-8 to claim the Lancers’ only championship, exhausting Clinton’s top seed with long rallies. Meanwhile, Schroeder tweaked his knee against Bettendorf’s Michael Porubcion. He was visibly gimpy the rest of the match even after donning a knee brace, losing narrowly 10-8.
The team title came down to the play of Clinton’s Cody Nolan (No. 3) and Tony Hurlburt (No. 4), both among the final two matches of the tournament. At that point, the Kings led Bettendorf 50-47, and if both players lost, it meant a four-point swing for the Bulldogs and top prize.
Both Kings came through. Nolan defeated Brien, and Hurlburt beat Josh Suhmlei of Bettendorf, both 10-8.
“These guys really give it their all and fight to the end,” Clinton coach David Moore said. “That’s why we pull out a lot of close matches. We’re pretty close. I think they’d (Bettendorf) like to be a little better than us and we’d like to be better than them.”
As with Kruse and Schroeder, Moore said the early-season loss to Bettendorf stuck with many Clinton players. Now that Clinton has evened the score, the next Kings-Bulldogs showdown would be at the MAC conference tournament on Thursday, if it comes to that.
1. Clinton 54, 2. Bettendorf 47, 3. North Scott 16, 4. Camanche 13, 5. Davenport Central 6, 6. Clinton JV 5, 7. Davenport North 4, 8. Maquoketa 2. Scoring — 3 points for a doubles win, 2 for a singles win.
No. 1 championship — Guillermo Rivas (NS) def. Jacob Kruse (Cl) 10-8; third place — Forrest Campbell (B) def. Vvamsi Marla (CJV). 9-8
No. 2 championship — Michael Porubcion (B) def. Ryan Schroeder (Cl) 10-8; third place — Tanner Atkinson (Ca) def. Will McKay (DC) by default.
No. 3 championship — Cody Nolan (Cl) def. Bryce Brien (B) 10-8; third place — Alex Cole (NS) def. Thomas Corbin (DC) 9-7.
No. 4 championship — Tony Hurlburt (Cl) def. Josh Suhmlei (B) 10-8; third place — Devin Michels (Ca) def. Sean McPhearson (DC) 9-7.
No. 5 championship — Evan Hood (Cl) def. Aaron Albers (NS) 10-3.
No. 6 championship — Nathan Belcher (B) def. Rohan Aggarwal (Cl)10-8; third place — Hunter Hessing (M) def. Nate Marks (DN) by default.
No. 1 championship — Schroeder/Kruse (Cl) def. Campbell/Brien (B) 10-7; third place —Boysen/Atkinson (Ca) def. Rivas/Cole (NS) 8-1.
No. 2 championship — Nolan/Hurlburt (Cl) def. Porubcion/Suhmlei (B) 11-9; third place — Scott/Kane (NS) def. Osaro/Phillips (Ca) 8-2.
No. 3 championship — Belcher/Vaughn (B) def. Hood/Aggarwal (Cl) 10-8; third place — Nolan/Mulholland (CJV) def. Michels/Denbeston (Ca) 10-8.