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Omaha Westside's Andrea Kinnerk and McKinney Harwood felt they had nothing to lose when they advanced to the No. 1 doubles final at the Class A state tennis tournament Friday.
In reality, there was plenty on the line.
Besides an individual title, Westside would clinch its first team championship since 2007 with the win at No. 1 doubles.
“We came in not being nervous, being confident,” Kinnerk said. “In between points, we reminded each other to leave it all on the court. We didn't get down, we kept a happy mentality and kept fighting to the end.”
Kinnerk and Harwood knocked off top-seeded Jessica Koraleski and Courtney Warren of Omaha Marian in the final, winning both sets in tiebreakers at 7-4.
Omaha Marian did have the individual champion at No. 1 singles as Katherine Nelsen rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 win over top-seeded Emma Schelble of Millard West. But Kinnerk and Harwood kept Marian from winning a fifth straight team championship.
Westside coach Kim Gradoville said the team title “means the world to me and the kids.”
“it's been about the team from the beginning of the year,” Gradoville said. “These girls took on roles that best fit the team, and everyone had to dig in and do what they had to do at their position for us to be successful.”
Westside finished with 51 points, while Marian was next with 46. Westside also had the individual champion at No. 2 singles as Dylan Harlow completed an unbeaten season with a 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Marian's Julia Tatten. Harlow trailed 5-3 in the second set before coming back.
The win at No. 1 doubles capped a long day for Kinnerk and Harwood. In Friday morning's semifinals, they outlasted Lincoln Southwest's Saki Aota and Anna Bogdanov 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-0 in a match that lasted three hours.
Forty minutes after the semifinal win, Kinnerk and Harwood squared off with Marian. It was the fifth time the two doubles teams had played this season, with Marian winning three times.
Westside dug itself a 4-1 hole in the first set before winning the next four games. Then in that set's tiebreaker, Westside opened a 5-2 lead on a half-volley winner by Kinnerk. Marian pulled within 5-4, but two errors gave Westside the set.
Westside also led 5-2 in the second-set tiebreaker, eventually winning the match on a Marian error.
“I can't even express how amazing it is to win it,” Kinnerk said of the team title. “Our goal was to get a new banner, a championship banner, for our school.”
At No. 1 singles, Marian's Nelsen turned in another dominant performance against Schelble, never trailing in the 6-2, 6-1 win.
Nelsen also defeated Schelble — on the same court and by the identical score — in last week's Metro tournament final. Before that meeting, Schelble had defeated Nelsen twice this season — the only losses all season for the two juniors were to each other.
“At the beginning of the year, I was getting used to (playing singles). Still, she outplayed me the first two matches,” said Nelsen, who lost to Schelble and her sister in the No. 1 doubles final at state last season. “But I was able to outplay her these two matches, so it feels really good.”
Nelsen broke Schelble's serve seven times in the match. And after winning the opening set, she started hitting more confidently from the baseline. Nelsen ended the third and fourth games in the second set with big forehands for winners.
“I'm big on leads,” Nelsen said, “and once I got the lead, it gave me a lot of confidence.”
» NOTES: The champions at No. 2 doubles were Lincoln Southwest's Lauren Works and Sarah Hove, who beat top-seeded Libby Koukol and Alexandra McCarthy of Millard North in the semifinals and then second-seeded Allison Fisher and Katherine Slosburg of Westside in the final. ... Marian has had the No. 1 singles winner the past five years. Brooke Urzendowski won the past four years before Nelsen's victory this season.
Team scoring: Omaha Westside 51, Omaha Marian 46, Millard North 34, Lincoln Southwest 30, Millard West 22, Lincoln Southeast 20, Omaha Central 18, Grand Island 16, Kearney 16, Lincoln East 16, Papillion-La Vista 16, Columbus 14, Fremont 12, Bellevue East 10, Papillion-La Vista South 10, Lincoln Northeast 8, Omaha North 8, Millard South 6, Omaha Burke 6, Bellevue West 4, Omaha Bryan 4, Lincoln High 2, Lincoln North Star 2, North Platte 2, Omaha Northwest 2, Norfolk 0, Omaha Benson 0, Omaha South 0.
No. 1 singles: Semifinals: Emma Schelble, Millard West, def. Giselle Tran, Omaha Central, 6-1, 6-4. Katherine Nelsen, Omaha Marian, def. Sydney Harlow, Omaha Westside, 6-1, 6-4. Finals: Nelsen def. Schelble 6-2, 6-1. Third place: Harlow def. Tran 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2 singles: Semifinals: Dylan Harlow, Omaha Westside, def. Allison Johnson, Millard North, 6-2, 7-6 (2). Julia Tatten, Omaha Marian, def. Chelsea Haack, Columbus, 7-5, 6-4. Finals: Harlow def. Tatten 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. Third place: Johnson def. Haack 6-1, 6-4.
No. 1 doubles: Semifinals: Jessica Koraleski-Courtney Warren, Omaha Marian, def. Liz Ternent-Katherine Ternent, Millard North, 6-3, 7-5. McKinney Harwood-Andrea Kinnerk, Omaha Westside, def. Saki Aota-Anna Bogdanov, Lincoln Southwest, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-0. Finals: Harwood-Kinnerk def. Koraleski-Warren 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). Third place: Ternent-Ternent def. Aota-Bogdanov 5-7, 6-4, 2-1 ret.
No. 2 doubles: Lauren Works-Sarah Hove, Lincoln Southwest, def. Libby Koukol-Alexandra McCarthy, Millard North, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Allison Fisher-Katherine Slosburg, Omaha Westside, def. Leigha Limbach-Stephanie Shields, Kearney, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Finals: Works-Hove def. Fisher-Slosburg, 6-3, 6-1. Third place: Koukol-McCarthy def. Limbach-Shields 6-1, 6-4.
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