The Kearney Bearcats played for first place in all four divisions of the North Platte Tennis Invitational held at Cody Park on Saturday. Although they were only able to come away with one championship on the day, it carried the Bearcats to the team title.
The Bearcats, with one title and three runner-up finishes, topped the scoring with 56 points. Four other teams fought it out for second with Grand Island taking the honors with 48 points. Alliance was third with 44, North Platte scored 42 in fourth, and Holdrege was fifth with 41.
Kearney coach Troy Saulsbury said the Bearcats carried out the plan they had set for the tournament.
“It was our goal to win our pool and get into the final round to play for first,” the coach said. “The finals didn’t necessarily come out the way we wanted, but we knew if we were in the final it would help our chances for the team title.”
North Platte head coach Dale Hall was impressed with the competition on the courts.
“The kids competed well throughout the day,” Hall said. “There was some good competition during the meet. Many of the matches came right down to the end before being decided.”
Kearney’s Matt Case went unscathed throughout the day — winning his pool play at 4-0 and then defeating Joe Huston of Grand Island 8-2 to win the No. 1 singles.
“Matt came out really focused today,” Saulsbury said. “He only dropped a couple games in pool play.
“He lost to [Huston] two weeks ago in our dual, so it was good to see Matt rebound. He followed our game-plan and played his own game.”
Keagan Hill, of Alliance, downed North Platte’s Cameron Bargell in the third-place match 8-2.
“I thought Cameron played hard, but ran into some tough competition,” Hall said. “He will need to work on his forehand a little and use a little less slice. Cameron also needs more confidence on the overheads. I know that will come as the season goes on.”
The team of Jared Karlson and Walker Hohensee of Holdrege defeated Kearney’s Luke Strawhecker and Seth Liveringhouse 8-6 to win the No. 2 doubles. Karlson and Hohensee finished with a 5-0 record while the loss was the first for Strawhecker and Liveringhouse.
North Platte’s duo of Charley Halligan and Tyler Halligan won their play-across match for fifth place. The Bulldogs outlasted Drew Bredvick and Chase Midkiff of McCook 9-8 (7-4).
“Charley and Tyler are playing better every time out,” Hall said. “They’re beginning to move better as a unit and communicating a lot better.”
At No. 2 singles, it was Grand Island’s Chance Keopanya coming away with the title.
Keopanya, after going 4-0 in pool play, defeated Caleb Capellen of Kearney 8-3 for the championship. North Platte’s Michael Odle downed Alex Elston of Alliance for third place, 8-3. Odle’s placing was one of two third-place finishes for the Bulldogs.
“Michael battled back after a loss to [Keopanya] in pool play,” Hall said. “For him to get third showed some guts.”
Holdrege took their second division title of the day as the No. 2 doubles team of Justin Ropers and Joseph Anderson downed Kearney’s Jacob Larsen and Ty Liveringhouse 8-6 in the final. The North Platte team of Troy Hlavaty and Nick Wilkinson downed Lexington’s Coleman Evans and Keven Hua 8-5 for third.
“Troy and Nick lost to the eventual champions from Holdrege in pool play, but showed some mental toughness battling back to get third,” Hall said.
Team results: 1. Kearney, 56; 2. Grand Island, 48; 3. Alliance, 44; 4. North Platte, 42; 5. Holdrege, 41; 6. McCook, 29; 7. Hastings, 27; 8. Lexington, 21; 9. Gering, 14; 10. Scottsbluff, 10.
Area results: (position, name, place, record)
North Platte results:
No. 1 singles – Cameron Bargell, 4th, 3-2; No. 1 doubles – Halligan/Halligan, 5th, 3-2; No. 2 singles – Michael Odle, 3rd, 4-1; No. 2 doubles – Hlavaty/Wilkinson, 3rd, 4-1.
No. 1 singles – Caleb Doyle, 9th, 1-4; No. 1 doubles – Lauby/Gutierrez, 7th, 2-3; No. 2 singles – Eduardo Tecla, 9th, 1-4; No. 2 doubles – Evans/Hua, 4th, 2-3.
No. 1 singles – Tristan Thomas, 6th, 2-3; No. 1 doubles – Bredvick/Midkiff, 6th, 2-3; No. 2 singles – Kalan Stamm, 6th, 2-3; No. 2 doubles – Stamm/Suda – 7th, 2-3.