TENNIS: PAPILLION-LA VISTA INVITATIONAL
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Papillion-La Vista coach Mariana Hurst gave her doubles teams no room for error Saturday at the Koch Tennis Center.
"It's always our goal to defend our seed," Hurst said. "So if we're (seeded) one, we should come out one. Our two doubles teams did that."
Thanks to both of the Monarchs' doubles teams winning their brackets, Papillion-La Vista was able to win its own 11-team invitational with 60 points. Elkhorn South was next with 58, while Kearney was third with 52.
At No. 1 doubles, Papio's Claire Neil and Spencer Roach remained unbeaten on the season as they defeated Elkhorn South's Hannah Raymond and Tatem Miller 8-3 in the final. Neil and Roach, who were Class A state runners-up as freshmen last season, pulled away by winning five of the final six games in the eight-game pro set.
"They were strong at the net," Hurst said of Neil and Roach. "With Hannah Raymond, with her being a lefty, I thought they did a good job of handling the angles."
Papio's top-seeded No. 2 doubles team of Emma Dargy and Tessa Hurst also pulled away late in the final, defeating Kearney's Josie Kratzenstein and Vanessa Bamesberger 8-4.
Elkhorn South placed second behind another strong showing at No. 1 singles from freshman Samantha Mannix. Mannix dropped just one game all day as she overpowered her opponents to improve to 25-0 this spring. She earned an 8-1 victory in the final over Kearney's Faith Kowalski, who had sprung a couple of upsets earlier in the day.
In less than three weeks, Mannix will be looking for her first state title.
"I just want more consistency overall, hitting high-percentage shots and keeping the ball in," Mannix said. "My serve has improved a lot over the last couple years. It's probably my strongest shot right now."
The Storm, whose No. 2 singles player missed Saturday's meet, will challenge for the Class B team title at state as well.
Elkhorn South won the 16-team Lincoln Pius X Invitational last Saturday and was second at the 25-teamWestside Invitational three weeks ago. Defending Class B state champion Omaha Skutt won the Westside title, while the Storm edged Skutt at Pius.
"We still have room for improvement," Storm coach Steve Bischof said. "There's still things we can do better. We have 2 1/2 weeks to keep working and getting better."