Millard North's Mary Faulk gears up for Metro Conference meet by winning home invitational

“Mary’s getting 100 percent confidence in her game. She’s going for her shots a lot more,” Millard North coach Josh Raymond said. “Always moving forward, stepping into her shot.”

Mary Faulk hasn’t had many opportunities to play matches this spring because of inclement weather.

But the Millard North sophomore showed Friday that her game is in good shape heading into the final two weeks of the girls tennis season.

Faulk lost one game in four matches while rolling to the No. 1 singles title at the Millard North Invitational.

“Mary’s getting 100 percent confidence in her game. She’s going for her shots a lot more,” Millard North coach Josh Raymond said. “Always moving forward, stepping into her shot.”

Faulk said she’s been working on playing more aggressively in order to dictate play from the start of a point. She hit plenty of winners in Friday’s final, an 8-0 win over Lincoln Southwest’s Shelby Henry.

“When Mary’s on, she’s on. She’s doing a good job,” Raymond said.

Faulk, who finished fourth at state in No. 1 singles as a freshman, had played only 12 matches this season prior to Friday. She improved her record to 13-3, with two losses to Creighton commit Julia King of Omaha Marian and one to Brownell-Talbot’s Brianna Liu, last year’s Class B state champion.

“This is only our second invite,” Faulk said. “We got halfway through an invite last week and it got rained out, and we were supposed to have a match this week and it got rained out. It’s been kind of hard to get a ranking.”

Faulk will be among the favorites the next two weeks as the Metro Conference meet begins Wednesday and the Class A state meet starts May 16. Both meets will be at Koch Tennis Center.

Raymond hopes his Mustangs are in the running for the team title at the Metro tournament. Both his doubles teams feature a senior partnered with a freshman and he said they are starting to click.

In the No. 1 doubles final, Millard North senior Josie Friedman and freshman Zoey Norris made a late charge, but Lincoln Southwest’s Allie Haggar and Grace Bartolome were able to close out an 8-6 win. Friedman and Norris, who trailed 7-3 at one point, took the 7-6 game to deuce before Southwest served out the victory.

Friedman and Norris “just never quit,” Raymond said. “They kept fighting, they kept moving. They put pressure on the other team no matter what the score is.”

Southwest also won the No. 2 doubles title, propelling the Silver Hawks to the team title with 42 points. Millard North had 38, while Papillion-La Vista and Papio South were next with 30 each.

Papio South senior Leah Palensky won the No. 2 singles title, winning the last two games for an 8-6 victory over Papillion-La Vista’s Madeline Vejvoda.

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Team scores: Lincoln Southwest 42, Millard North 38, Papillion-La Vista 30, Papillion-La Vista South 30, Millard West 24, Omaha Westside 12, Millard South 8, Bellevue West 8.

Individual results (top four)

No. 1 singles: 1, Mary Faulk, MN, def. Shelby Henry, LSW, 8-0. 3, Olivia Boudreau, PL, def. Sarah O’Malley, PLS, 8-0. No. 2 singles: 1, Leah Palensky, PLS, def. Madeline Vejvoda, PL, 8-6. 3, Lilly Zhou, LSW, def. Riya Kannapareddy, MN, 8-4. No. 1 doubles: 1, Allie Haggar-Grace Bartolome, LSW, def. Josie Friedman-Zoey Norris, MN, 8-6. 3, Dani Lawrence-Jackie Vote, PLS, def. Mia Jarecki-Abby Meyer, PL, 8-2. No. 2 doubles: 1, Meg Hove-Ella Dean, LSW, def. Jessica Leung-Summer Nelson, MW, 8-2. 3, Ritika Boob-Katie Ruge, MN, def. Sofia Hurst-Chloe Paschal, PL, 8-4.