A No. 3 seed for the Class B state tennis tournament has lit a fire in two-time state champion Katie Carlson.
The Omaha Duchesne junior, who has won No. 1 singles titles the past two seasons, was listed behind Elkhorn South’s Hylan Miller and Omaha Skutt’s Teresa Kaiser, respectively, when the brackets were released for the state tournament Thursday and Friday at the Nebraska Tennis Center in Lincoln.
“I guess that is kind of what I get for losing three matches,” Carlson said. “I guess just being the three seed is extra motivation. I need to prove I can win for the third time.”
Carlson said she was going through a rough patch during a stretch where she lost to Miller, Kaiser and Omaha Central’s Giselle Tran, the fourth seed in the Class A tournament.
She was putting too much pressure on herself, playing tight and focusing on all the wrong things.
She’s since done extra work outside her high school practices with her longtime coach Doug Greenwald.
“I needed to get out of a funk,” Carlson said. “The biggest thing for me is staying positive. Just staying focused and staying within myself and believing I can win.”
Duchesne coach Terri Anania said Miller (21-1) and Kaiser (20-4) will be among Carlson’s biggest challengers. Last year, as a No. 2 seed, Carlson ousted Miller, who had entered the tournament 30-1, in the championship match 7-5, 6-0.
Carlson (17-3) said her intensity, having a game plan and staying focused has carried her far. She’s also light on her feet and not afraid to come to the net.
“Her mental game would be her greatest strength,” Anania said.
Carlson said she’s loved playing tennis since age 8 or 9. Making it back to the final would mean a lot.
She wants to win now more than ever.
“Having those losses gives me motivation and determination,” she said. “I’m willing to do what it takes this Friday.”
Elkhorn South and Skutt, Nos. 1 and 2 in the team race last year, have the top seeds in all four divisions. The Storm have top seeds in Miller and defending champions Tiffany Hottman and Emily Fink at No. 1 doubles. Skutt has defending champion Caroline Friedman at No. 2 singles and Lauren Camenzind and Bianca Lowe at No. 2 doubles. Camenzind won last year with Emilee Johnson.
The SkyHawks will enter the tournament on a high note after winning all four titles at the River Cities Conference meet.
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