Ethan Neil looks more than ready to defend his Class A No. 1 singles title.
The Papillion-La Vista junior turned in a dominant performance Thursday afternoon, rolling past Millard North’s Garret Starman 6-0, 6-0 in the Metro Conference tournament final at Hanscom Park.
Neil, who takes a 28-1 record into next week’s state meet, said it was his most complete victory of the season.
“From start to finish, I felt like I played really well,” said Neil, who beat Starman 8-4 in September in their only other meeting this fall. “I didn’t have many spots where I didn’t feel I was playing my best.”
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Neil didn’t allow Starman to gather any momentum. During a long fourth game in the first set, Neil broke Starman’s serve on his sixth game point.
“Getting that game was important,” Neil said. “Staying in those long games, even if you lose, it’s going to help you in the long run.”
Omaha Creighton Prep, meanwhile, won all four of its matches Thursday — two for first place, two for third — to net to the team title. The Junior Jays finished with 34 points in front of Elkhorn South (32.5) and Millard North (30.5), which led after the opening day.
“We needed everyone to perform, that’s what made it great,” Prep coach Jerry Kowal said of his team’s win. “It was nice to see my guys pull it out.”
The Junior Jays had individual champions at No. 2 singles and doubles with Gavin Forster winning singles and Daniel Kowal and Josh Morales downing top-seeded Miles Meier and Gabe Jordan of Elkhorn South 7-6 (5), 6-2 in doubles.
Elkhorn South won No. 1 doubles as Michael Day and Max Jordan earned a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Omaha Westside’s Clark Rue and Alex Kugler. Day and Jordan lost to the Westside team in September in their only other meeting this fall.
“We did different things at the net,” Jordan said of Thursday’s match. “We were just more consistent all around.”
Westside took a 3-0 lead in the second set before Elkhorn South won the next five games. The Warriors broke serve to tie it 5-5, then after the teams traded breaks again, it set up a tiebreaker that also was filled with momentum swings. Down 2-0, Westside won five of the next six points before the Storm won the last four to take the match.
Day thought both teams “played lights out” and can feel good heading into state.
Day and Jordan have won nine straight matches after starting the season 8-9 — Jordan played singles early in the year.
“The best time to peak is right now,” said Day, who won a state title last year in Class B at No. 2 doubles.
Team scoring: Om. Creighton Prep 34, Elkhorn South 32.5, Millard North 30.5, Papillion-La Vista 24.5, Omaha Westside 21, Millard West 19, Bellevue West 14, Bellevue East 11.5, Millard South 8, Papio South 7.5, Om. Burke 6.5, Om. Central 5.5, Om. Northwest 3, Om. Bryan 3, Om. North 2, Gretna 1.5, Om. South 1, Om. Benson 0.
No. 1 singles: 1, Ethan Neil, Papio, def. Garret Starman, MN, 6-0, 6-0. 3, Nathan Ramachandran, OCP, def. Keaton Young, MW, 6-3, 6-1. No. 2 singles: 1, Gavin Forster, OCP, def. Jalan Zhu, MN, 6-1, 6-4. 3, Joey Kirshenbaum, ES, def. Trey Conant, BW, 6-2, 6-4. No. 1 doubles: 1, Michael Day/Max Jordan, ES, def. Clark Rue/Alex Kugler, OW, 6-4, 7-6 (5). 3, Andrew Doehner/Mac Nelson, OCP, def. Neal Agarwal/Allan Muinov, MN, 7-5, 6-2. No. 2 doubles: 1, Daniel Kowal/Josh Morales, OCP, def. Miles Meier/Gabe Jordan, ES, 7-6 (5), 6-2. 3, Ruthvick Kasireddy/Jonathon Sabirianov, MN, def. Tanner Klahn/Fletcher Kuper, MW, 6-4, 6-2.