Some things never change.
It seems like every year Omaha Marian and Omaha Westside are in the title hunt at the Class A girls tennis state tournament. In fact, the Crusaders and Warriors have each won five of the past 10 state championships.
The first day of the tourney fit the bill Thursday at Koch Family Tennis Center with Marian and Westside locked in a tie at 34 points. Lincoln East had 32 points, while Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Southeast filled out the top five with 30 and 26 points, respectively.
“Hindsight will give you clarity going into this last day,” Marian coach John Waters said. “It's so close. It's all going to come down to tomorrow regardless now. We've competed well in the past, but there's never a guarantee that's going to happen again.”
Marian and Westside each advanced three entries to Friday's semifinals, as did Lincoln East. The top three seeds of all four divisions reached the second day of the tournament. Semifinal matches are scheduled for 9 a.m., with championship and third-place matches following at 1 p.m.
Westside coach Kim Gradoville said a major challenge will be staying focused in the midst of such close team scores.
“You can't worry about what seed you are or what your teammates are doing and the other team is doing,” Gradoville said. “Everyone just needs to focus and play their own match and take care of their own things and everything will take care of itself.”
In No. 1 singles, top-seeded Marian senior Katherine Nelsen stayed focused, making quick work of her opponents. She cruised past Omaha Benson's Meghan Johnson with a 6-1, 6-1 round of 16 win and then ousted Grand Island's Riley Menagh 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
“I was pretty aggressive in my second match, so that gives me good confidence moving forward,” said Nelsen, who has not lost a set this year.
Nelsen (20-0) will square off against fourth-seeded Omaha Central senior Giselle Tran in the semifinals.
“She's a great player,” Nelsen said. “I'll need to play confident and not be tentative against her.”
The other semifinal will feature second-seeded Omaha Westside sophomore Sydney Harlow and the No. 3 seed, Lincoln East junior Kaley Clark. Harlow and Clark each lost two games apiece in reaching the semifinals.
The No. 1 doubles top seed, Marian sophomore Julia Tatten and junior Courtney Warren (19-1), won both of their matches in straight sets.
“We both lost (in the state finals) last year, so we're really excited for the chance to kind of redeem ourselves tomorrow,” Tatten said.
Last year, Tatten lost in three sets in the No. 2 singles final and Warren came up short in the No. 1 doubles championship.
The Marian duo will face the No. 5 seed, Southwest seniors Lauren Works and Sarah Hove. Second-seeded Westside sisters Lizzie and McKinney Harwood will meet the No. 3 seed, Southeast's Danielle Kostal and Hannah Everett, in the other semifinal. The Harwoods (28-1) dropped only three games en route to the semifinals.
Works and Hove claimed the No. 2 doubles title last year, while McKinney Harwood took the No. 1 doubles title with Andrea Kinnerk.
Nelsen is the defending champion at No. 1 singles, but she seeks team success to end her high school career.
“Individual titles are really awesome, but winning a team title is a special feeling — that you won it all together,” Nelsen said.
Team scoring: Omaha Marian 34, Omaha Westside 34, Lincoln East 32, Lincoln Southwest 30, Lincoln Southeast 26, Millard North 22, Millard West 18, Omaha Central 16, Papillion-La Vista 16, Grand Island 14, Kearney 14, Lincoln High 10, Omaha Burke 10, Columbus 8, Norfolk 8, Bellevue East 6, Bellevue West 6, Lincoln Northeast 6, Omaha North 6, Fremont 4, Lincoln North Star 4, Omaha Benson 4, Omaha Northwest 4, Papillion-La Vista South 4, Millard South 0, Omaha Bryan 0, Omaha South 0, Omaha Roncalli/Omaha Mercy 0.
Quarterfinals: No. 1 singles: Katherine Nelsen, OM, def. Riley Menagh, GI, 6-1, 6-0. Giselle Tran, OC, def. Allison Johnson, MN, 6-0, 6-0. Sydney Harlow, OW, def. Dominic Yarabe, LSW, 6-0, 6-1. Kaley Clark, LE, def. Emma Neil, PLV, 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 singles: Elizabeth Rentfro, LE, def. Abbie Kubat, OM, 6-1, 6-3. Jenna Krager, MW, def. Tiffany Truong, LSW, 6-4, 6-4. Olivia Miller, LSE, def. Paige Bachkora, K, 6-2, 6-3. Katherine Slosburg, OW, def. Madelyn Willett, PLV, 6-2, 7-5. No. 1 doubles: Julia Tatten/Courtney Warren, OM, def. Alexandra McCarthy/Elizabeth Koukol, MN, 6-2, 6-2. Lauren Works/Sarah Hove, LSW, def. Leigha Limbach/Jaydn Trimble, K, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. Lizzie Harwood/McKinney Harwood, OW, def. Marissa Calabro/Alyssa Cohen, MW, 6-1, 6-0. Danielle Kostal/Hannah Everett, LSE, def. Chloe Foote/Grace Rapp, LE, 7-5, 6-4. No. 2 doubles: Christina Ternent/Alexandra Baxter, MN, def. Emma Dargy/Shelby Bonnemier, PLV, 6-2, 6-3. Anna Tussing/Ashlyn Saeger, LSW, def. Maria Ciotti/Gabriella Parsons, LSE, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. Alexandra Jensen/Kaitlin Roselius, LE, def. Amber Baudler/Lauren Elsberry, MW, 7-6 (10-8), 7-5. Anna Bartolomei/Clare Crockett, OM, def. Elizabeth Tyler/Phoebe Placzek, OW, 7-5, 6-1.
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