Millard North junior David Liu gently guided a forehand drop volley crosscourt for a winner to garner the No. 1 singles title Thursday at the Metro Conference tennis tournament.
The top-seeded Liu, who has not lost a set in high school, rolled in straight sets again, this time topping Papillion-La Vista South freshman Chris Dean 6-4, 6-3. But his day — another breezy one at the Koch Family Tennis Center — didn’t begin as smoothly as his match-clinching volley.
Dean, the second seed, broke serve while winning the first six points and held a lead until Liu evened the match at 4. Liu hit his stride toward the end of the set, but needed four set points to finally take the opening frame.
“Slow starts happen,” Liu said. “I just wanted to get back into my rhythm and it happened toward the end of the first set, when it needed to.”
In the second set, Dean again put up some resistance, but Liu (22-0) dictated rallies and broke serve three times to win his “toughest match this year.”
Dean (24-5) said he played one of the best matches of his life.
“It’s pretty obvious he’s the best player in the state,” Dean said. “Staying undefeated his entire high school career is pretty unbelievable.”
At No. 1 doubles, last year’s best tandem in the state, Omaha Creighton Prep’s Michael Koch and Niko Piperis, pulled out a straight-set victory in the final, ousting the second seed, Papio South senior Sam Palensky and Grant Horton, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
After winning the first set, the top-seeded Creighton Prep seniors (27-2) fell behind 6-5 in the second. The Junior Jays duo broke serve to force a tiebreaker, which they led from the start.
“(Papio South) is always really scrappy,” Koch said. “We just had to stay focused and patient. This win gives us a lot of confidence heading into state.”
Koch and Piperis’ win, coupled with a three-set, comeback victory in the No. 2 doubles championship, clinched the team title for the Creighton Prep, which collected 39 points.
“It’s great to see the team playing this well a week before state,” Creighton Prep coach Mike Higgins said. “We’re playing well now. One week from now, we’ll have to play even better.”
In the No. 2 singles final, Papio South junior Biraj Parajuli squeezed out a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 triumph over Creighton Prep freshman Nathan Singh. After trailing by a set and a break, Creighton Prep junior Peter Furlow and sophomore Stavros Piperis topped Omaha Westside senior Grant Glazer and junior Camden Bilyeu 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to win the No. 2 doubles title.
Team scoring: Omaha Creighton Prep 39, Papillion-La Vista South 36, Millard North 31.5, Omaha Westside 27.5, Papillion-La Vista 16.5, Millard West 15.5, Omaha Central 13, Omaha Burke 7.5, Bellevue East 7, Omaha North 7, Bellevue West 4, Omaha Benson 3, Millard South 2.5, Omaha Bryan 2, Omaha Northwest 1, Omaha South 0.
Individual results: No. 1 singles: Championship: David Liu, MN, def. Chris Dean, PLS, 6-4, 6-3. No. 2 singles: Biraj Parajula, PLS, def. Nathan Singh, CP, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. No. 1 doubles: Michael Koch/Niko Piperis, CP, def. Sam Palensky/Grant Horton, PLS, 6-4, 7-6 (2). No. 2 doubles: Peter Furlow/Stavros Piperis, CP, def. Grant Glazer/Camden Bilyeu, OW, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Former Millard North coach honored
The Metro Conference Tennis Hall of Fame welcomed longtime Millard North coach John Carroll as its newest member Thursday afternoon.
“This is awesome,” said Carroll, who led the Mustangs for 35 years. “It’s the greatest reward I could receive.”
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