Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:40 am
Brothers looking to repeat as champions

Niko Piperis feels sorry for his parents.

Christina and Peter Piperis will be scampering from court to court Thursday and Friday at Koch Family Tennis Center, trying to keep up with Niko and younger brother Stavros in their attempt to repeat as Class A state doubles champions for Omaha Creighton Prep.

“They just kind of go back and forth, dad on one court and mom on the other one,” Niko said. “They’ll go to whichever one is closer to finishing or whichever one is closer. We’re usually on opposite sides of the complex.

“I’m sure it’s pretty stressful.”

Niko Piperis, who partners with fellow senior Michael Koch at No. 1 doubles, said staying focused on his match will be the key to winning a third straight title. He likes to get an update from coach Mike Higgins on how his brother is doing, but he doesn’t dwell on it.

“It’s easy to get caught up in what other teams are doing, the whole environment and atmosphere,” Niko said. “We just need to play within ourselves and just worry about our game and doing the best we can do.”

At 26-2, Piperis and Koch are the top seeds. They lost twice in a triangular with Omaha Westside and Lincoln Southeast but won titles in every tournament Prep entered.

Stavros, a sophomore, and partner Peter Furlow are seeded second at No. 2 doubles at 22-2. They have a tough draw, Niko said. Lincoln Southeast’s Max Cuppens and Nicholas Wimmer are No. 1 at 31-2.

Millard North’s David Liu (25-0) and Lincoln Southeast’s Robert Curry (28-1) are the top seeds at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively. Liu is the defending champion.

The Piperis brothers are strong players who would have liked to play together. Higgins said he had to put his two best players at No. 1 doubles.

“Niko has outstanding footwork and Stavros has amazing hands,” Higgins said. “Certainly brothers in tennis are not unusual, but I don’t recall two who have been on the tournament team at the same time. That’s pretty neat.”

Niko said he found out during a three-set final last year that Stavros and then-partner Vince VanDyke had won at No. 2 doubles.

“I thought, ‘Oh, man, that’s awesome,’” Niko said. “Then you have to focus on your own match.

“I remember he was saying it wouldn’t have been as sweet if only he had won. It’s awesome to be in that situation. It’s difficult but awesome.”

Niko, who has a 3.97 GPA, said he doesn’t know if he’ll continue to play tennis in college. Academics are his No. 1 priority and he plans to study Greek history.

He’s hoping to end his Prep career on top.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win, but you always have to be ready. Everybody is going to raise their game at state,” he said.

In Class B at the Nebraska Tennis Center at Lincoln’s Abbott Sports Complex, Elkhorn South appears to be the heavy favorite with the top seeds at No. 1 singles in Nikita Fomichev (24-1), No. 2 singles in Zahler Zandt (21-3) and No. 1 doubles with Alec Lubben and Patrick Thomas (17-1). Lincoln Pius X’s Davis Warner and Adam Olson (18-9) are the top seeds at No. 2 doubles.

Coach Steve Bischof said he learned last spring with his girls team how hard it is to repeat. A loss in the No. 1 doubles title match derailed a second straight crown.

“Nobody can be sick or hurt,” he said. “You just never know. You have to play the matches and see what happens.”

Fomichev, who won last year at No. 2 singles, has lost only to Liu but he could face a formidable challenge in Adams Central’s Jordan Hash, who is 29-2. Both of those losses were to Fomichev.

Zandt lost to No. 2 seed Jared Miller of York (26-6) last weekend at the Elkhorn South tournament after beating him twice earlier.

“Last year, we beat Pius by a point and a half,” Bischof said. “I expect it to go down to the wire again.”

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Contact the writer: Marjie Ducey    |   402-444-1034

Marjie Ducey covers state colleges, women's sports, high schools, select sports, outdoors, holes in one, soccer, running and any other type of interesting story. She also puts out the metro edition and does some updating on

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