LINCOLN — Virtually everything went according to form Thursday at the Class B boys state tennis tournament, setting up a two-team showdown between Elkhorn South and Lincoln Pius X in Friday’s final day.
The Storm and Thunderbolts each scored the maximum 36 points, and both teams have a spot in the semifinals of all four brackets. The first of potentially four head-to-head matchups will take place in the semifinals of No. 1 doubles. Pius’ Joseph Burt and Jake Wilkinson, seeded second, defeated Elkhorn South brothers Jon and Ben Fink, the third seed, twice during the regular season.
“We won both, but both went to tiebreak. It was very close,” Wilkinson said.
Jon Fink said the difference in the first two matches was Pius’ ability to get to the net and cut off shots.
“We’ve got to help the team. Every match counts,” Ben Fink said.
Pius, which won its 12th team championship last year, has all four of its entrants seeded second or better, including top seed in No. 2 singles, freshman Mason Warner.
Elkhorn South, which has won state three times since 2011, has two No. 1s and two No. 3s. Among them is one of the best high school tennis players in state history, Mason Meier.
The senior won championships as a freshman and junior, but was ruled ineligible his sophomore year after not playing enough high school matches. He could have become the third four-time champion in the 89-year history of the event, but instead will try to become the eighth three-time winner.
Meier defeated York’s Ty Schneider in a quarterfinal Thursday. The sizable crowd gathered in the balcony of Woods Tennis Center’s new indoor facility cheered each time Schneider won a point. That happened three times.
“I just went in thinking there’s not really anything to lose,” Schneider said. “Just wanted to see if I could win some points.”
Meier, who will play at Nebraska, lost one game in last season’s state tournament, and website tennisrecruiting.net rates him as the best high school player in Nebraska and No. 27 nationally.
When asked what Meier does well, Schneider gave the standard answer.
Meier will face Isaac Gart of Elkhorn Mount Michael in one semifinal. Meier twice defeated Jacob Weber of Gretna in the state final, but a third match won’t happen.
Weber, who won the state singles title in 2015, is playing doubles this season and is seeded first with brother Zach. If successful today, Jacob Weber will become the 10th player in state history to win No. 1 singles and doubles championships in his career.
The top four seeds advanced in all four brackets with one exception. Gretna’s No. 2 doubles team of Gage Gibson and Evan Beran, seeded 12th, pulled off two upsets. First, they beat No. 5 Dalton Mogul and Mason Wright of York, then topped No. 4 seed Samuel McCaslin and Isaac Nuland-Bowman of Scottsbluff.
Players raved about the new courts. The major construction project, which replaced a roughly 40-year-old dome, opened in May for the girls state tournament, albeit with a few bells and whistles yet to be installed. Now everything is up and running.
“Compared to the old bubble, the courts are much nicer,” Jake Wilkinson of Pius said. “The lighting is better, the ceiling is much higher so you can lob more. They’ve done a great job.”
Gone is the air-lock revolving door. Added is balcony seating, freeing up more courtside space.
“The edge of the court (in the dome) curved because it was a circle, but this doesn’t do that. There’s more room,” Schneider said.
Team Scores: Elkhorn South 36, Lincoln Pius X 36, Elkhorn Mount Michael 28, Holdrege 26, Kearney Catholic 24, GICC 22, Elkhorn 18, McCook 18, Gretna 18, North Platte 16, York 14, Waverly 10, Hastings 8, Omaha Skutt 8, Scottsbluff 8, Lexington 6, Nebraska City 6, Beatrice 4, Omaha Gross 4, Ralston 4, Alliance 2, Lincoln Christian 2, Omaha Brownell Talbot/Concordia 2, Gering 0, Omaha Roncalli 0, South Sioux City 0.
No. 1 Singles: Quarterfinals: Mason Meier, ES, def. Ty Schneider, York, 6-0. 6-0. Isaac Gart, EMM, def. Carson Hamik, GICC, 6-2. 6-2. Spencer Anderson, Holdrege, def. Joel Poland, KC, 7-5. 6-2. Samuel Coy, LPX, def. Thomas Hunt, AC, 6-3. 6-0. Semifinals: Meier vs. Gart; Anderson vs. Coy.
No. 2 Singles: Quarterfinals: Mason Warner, LPX, def. Zion Moyer, McCook, 6-0. 6-1. Wyatt Behlen, Elkhorn, def. Nolan Sughroue, AC, 6-4. 7-5. Smaran Marupudi, ES, def. Alexander Hughes, OG, 6-0. 6-0. Jett Petit, Holdrege, def. Andres Hayes, KC, 6-1. 6-3. Semifinals: Warner vs. Behlen; Marupudi vs. Petit.
No. 1 doubles: Quarterfinals: Jacob Weber-Zachary Weber, Gretna, def. Joshua Caufmann-Cole Lohoefener, NP, 6-1. 6-0. Thomas Childers-Gavin Fox, GICC, def. Connor Conrad-Brandt Groskreutz, KC, 6-3. 7-6. Jon Fink-Ben Fink, ES, def. Samuel Knoll-Spencer Krysl, McCook, 6-1. 6-2. Joseph Burt-Jake Wilkinson, LPX, def. Douglas Jamal-Joe Hitzemann, EMM, 6-4. 6-0. Semifinals: Gretna vs. GICC; Elkhorn South vs. Pius.
No. 2 doubles: Quarterfinals: Seth Fink-Jack Kitson, ES, def. Samuel Beard-Jackson Habrock, Elkhorn, 6-1, 6-0. Gage Gibson-Evan Beran, Gretna, def. Samuel McCaslin-Isaac Nuland-Bowman, Scotts, 6-1, 0-6, 6-4. Adam Orr.Nicholas Orr, EMM, def. Graden Johnson-William Neinast, Holdrege, 6-3, 6-4; Will Ulrich-Joseph Plachy, LPX, def. Joseph Arram-Landon Seibert, KC, 6-0, 6-0. Semifinals: Elkhorn South vs. Gretna; Elkhorn Mt. Michael vs. Pius.