If Omaha Marian’s Katherine Nelsen needed any kind of confidence boost entering next week’s Class A girls state tennis meet, she got it Thursday afternoon.
The Marian junior avenged her only two losses of the season as she rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 win over top-seeded Emma Schelble of Millard West in the Metro Conference tournament No. 1 singles championship match at Koch Family Tennis Center.
“Emma’s a really good player. We’re always neck-and-neck,” Nelsen said. “Today, I just went for my shots more, moved to the ball and used the wind to my advantage. I just played better than usual.”
Championships by Nelsen and the No. 1 doubles team of Jessie Koraleski and Courtney Warren helped Marian win the conference team title for the fifth straight year with 42.5 points. Westside was second with 37.
Schelble had recently gotten the better of Nelsen in high school meets. Besides the two singles victories this spring, Schelble teamed with her older sister, Alex, to win the No. 1 doubles state title last May with a three-set win over Nelsen and Koraleski.
But Thursday, Nelsen took control early, breaking Schelble’s serve twice on her way to a 3-0 lead. That set the tone for the match as Nelsen was able to dictate play by moving in on short volleys and then moving Schelble around behind the baseline.
“Once I get the ball inside the baseline, that’s really my shot. I had to go for it when I had it,” Nelsen said.
Said Marian coach John Waters: “Katherine had good footwork, good concentration and attacked the shots she needed to attack. And she just competed well. Emma’s a fine player, and you have to play well in order to have any success against her. Emma makes you bring out your best tennis.”
Koraleski and Warren also beat familiar opponents in the No. 1 doubles final, defeating Westside’s Andrea Kinnerk and McKinney Harwood 6-4, 6-4.
It was the fourth time this season they have met — Koraleski and Warren have won three of those matches.
The Marian duo had to rally in both sets as they trailed 4-1 in the first and 2-0 in the second.
“We like to keep things interesting,” Koraleski said. “Starting out, we let our nerves get the best of us. They were playing great the whole time, but we were just so nervous. After we got down 4-1, we kind of settled down.”
Westside had champions at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles.
In doubles, Allie Fisher and Kate Slosburg outlasted top-seeded Libby Koukol and Ali McCarthy of Millard North 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4). In a match that lasted nearly three hours, Fisher and Slosburg closed out the victory by winning the final three points of the third-set tiebreaker.
In the No. 2 singles final, Dylan Harlow defeated Marian’s Julia Tatten 6-3, 6-2.
Next up will be the state meet, which begins next Thursday at the Koch Family Tennis Center.
“Even though I won today, it doesn’t mean anything for next week,” Nelsen said. “I’ll have to play just as hard next week.”
Team scoring: Omaha Marian 42.5, Omaha Westside 37, Millard West 22, Millard North 21.5, Papillion-La Vista 19.5, Central 14.5, Papillion-La Vista South 13.5, Bellevue West 11.5, Omaha Burke 8.5, Bellevue East 7.5, Millard South 6, Omaha Benson 5.5, Omaha South 2, Omaha Bryan 1.5, Omaha North 0, Omaha Northwest 0.
Championship matches: No. 1 singles: Katherine Nelsen, OM, def. Emma Schelble, MW, 6-2, 6-1. No. 2 singles: Dylan Harlow, OW, def. Julia Tatten, OM, 6-3, 6-2. No. 1 doubles: Jessie Koraleski-Courtney Warren, OM, def. Andrea Kinnerk-McKinney Harwood, OW, 6-4, 6-4. No. 2 doubles: Allie Fisher-Kate Slosburg, OW, def. Libby Koukol-Ali McCarthy, MN, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4).
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