Garret Starman has been a state finalist in singles and doubles.
The Millard North senior was runner-up at No. 2 singles as a sophomore and won No. 1 doubles last season with Sam Faulk as the Mustangs claimed the team title. Starman said if he had the option, he would rather play singles — where he’s 25-6 this season. But he also realizes how much playing doubles prepared him for this year.
“Doubles actually helped me because I’m so much more comfortable at the net now,” Starman said.
On Wednesday at Koch Tennis Center, Starman looked comfortable in rolling into the Metro Conference tournament final with a 6-2, 6-1 semifinal win over Millard West’s Kenton Young. The finals are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday indoors at Hanscom Park due to expected rain.
Starman will face defending state champion Ethan Neil of Papillion-La Vista in the final. Starman lost 8-4 in their only meeting this season, which came in early September.
“I need to make him play, which means not a lot of unforced errors on my part,” Starman said. “I need to take advantage of every opportunity I get to take control of a point.”
The team race is up in the air — Millard North, in front by two points, has both singles players in the final, Elkhorn South advanced both doubles teams and Omaha Creighton Prep has both of its No. 2s in the finals.
The biggest surprise Wednesday came at No. 1 doubles, where Westside’s Clark Rue and Alex Kugler upset top-seeded Andrew Doehner and Mac Nelson of Prep, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. Westside, which lost twice to Prep earlier this season, broke Prep’s serve to force a third-set tiebreaker. Westside jumped to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker and led the rest of the way.
“We worked a lot this week on finishing shots at the net and just being more active up there,” Westside coach Jordane Warkentin said. “They’re a freshman and a sophomore, so they’ve kind of grown throughout the season. We haven’t seen what their potential is yet.”
Team scoring: Millard North 30, Elkhorn South 28, Om. Creighton Prep 28, Om. Westside 21, Papillion-La Vista 20.5, Millard West 19, Bellevue West 14, Bellevue East 11.5, Papio South 10, Millard South 8, Om. Burke 6.5, Om. Central 5.5, Om. Bryan 3, Om. Northwest 3, Om. North 2, Gretna 1.5, Om. South 1, Om. Benson 0.
Semifinals — No. 1 singles: Ethan Neil, Papio, def. Nathan Ramachandran, Prep, 6-2, 6-1; Garret Starman, MN, def. Kenton Young, MW, 6-2, 6-1. No. 2 singles: Gavin Forster, Prep, def. Joey Kirshenbaum, ES, 6-2, 6-2; Jalan Zhu, MN, def. Trey Conant, BW, 6-3, 6-2. No. 1 doubles: Clark Rue/Alex Kugler, Westside, def. Andrew Doehner/Mac Nelson, Prep, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8; Michael Day/Max Jordan, ES, def. Neal Agarwal/Allan Muinov, MN, 6-3, 7-5. No. 2 doubles: Miles Meier/Gabe Jordan, ES, def. Tanner Klahn/Fletcher Kuper, MW, 6-0, 6-0; Daniel Kowal/Josh Morales, Prep, def. Ruthvick Kasireddy/Jonathon Sabirianov, MN, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Fifth-place finals — No. 1 singles: Smaran Marupudi, ES, won by injury over Ryan Carey, MS. No. 2 singles: Justin Ye, MW, def. Josh Rosenblatt, Westside, 8-3. No. 1 doubles: Trevor Sotak-Nick Ripa, PL, def. Tyson Forbes-Nolan Lausterer, BW, 8-4. No. 2 doubles: Daniel Brocaille-Nolan Ray, PS, def. Joshua Siegel-Luke David, Westside, 8-2.