LINCOLN — Elkhorn South came into the Class B boys state tennis meet as the favorite to repeat as team champion.
The Storm did nothing to hurt their chances Thursday during the opening day at the Abbott Sports Complex.
Elkhorn South advanced all four of its entries into Friday’s semifinal round, which begins at 9 a.m. The championship matches are slated to start at 1 p.m. The Storm lead the team race with 36 points, while Omaha Skutt advanced three entries and has 32 points. Lincoln Christian is third with 26.
“That’s a first for me,” Elkhorn South coach Steve Bischof said of having all four entries advance. “That’s pretty fun.”
Bischof watched Elkhorn South win last year’s title by 1½ points. He isn’t breathing any easier this time around going into the final day.
“You still got to play those matches,” Bischof said. “I’ll have to do a lot of running around tomorrow, but that’s a good thing.”
Three of Elkhorn South’s entries are top seeds in their respective brackets.
Senior Nikita Fomichev, top seed at No. 1 singles, dropped only three games on the day and will face Elkhorn’s Brock Dillon in the semifinals. Fomichev was the unbeaten state champion at No. 2 singles last season.
Zahler Zandt, top seed at No. 2 singles, lost seven games in his matches and will face Skutt’s Zachary Legband in the semifinals. Both players finished fourth at state last season — Zandt at No. 1 singles and Legband at No. 2 singles.
There were few surprises throughout the singles brackets. The top four seeds in both brackets advanced to the semifinals, and none of those players had to go to a third set.
The top four seeds also advanced in No. 1 doubles. But doubles play did have a little more drama, including Elkhorn South’s matches.
Elkhorn South’s No. 1 doubles team of Alec Lubben and Patrick Thomas, also a top seed, trailed Lincoln Christian’s Mitch Hohlen and Seth Navratil 5-4 in the first set in their quarterfinal match. But Lubben and Thomas then broke Lincoln Christian’s serve to tie the match and eventually controlled a tiebreaker, winning 7-2. Lubben and Thomas went on to win the match 7-6 (2), 6-1.
“We’ve got to play better tomorrow, but overall, we got it done today,” Thomas said. “(On Friday) we’ve got to hit better shots and play our game.”
The Storm’s No. 2 doubles team of Jonah Clark and Luke Johnson, seeded fifth, defeated fourth-seeded Dylan Nordhues and John Rohweder of Grand Island Central Catholic 7-5, 6-3. Clark and Johnson trailed 5-4 in the first set before rallying.
“We just started playing a little more aggressive,” Bischof said. “We started looking for the chances, the opportunities. Sometimes in doubles, when a door opens, you got to go through. That’s what they did.”
The No. 2 doubles bracket opened up as only one of the top four seeds advanced — second-seeded Alex Carlson and Tanner Hill-Bloyd of Lincoln Christian.
Skutt’s Zachary Pohlman and Griffin Sehring, the sixth seed, advanced by defeating No. 3 seed Justin Ropers and Joseph Anderson of Holdrege, 6-2, 6-4. The biggest upset came when ninth-seeded Samuel Johnson and Ryan Kern of Hastings outlasted top-seeded Davis Warner and Adam Olson of Lincoln Pius X, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
Team scoring: Elkhorn South 36, Omaha Skutt 32, Lincoln Christian 26, Lincoln Pius X 24, Adams Central 22, Grand Island Central Catholic 22, Alliance 20, Elkhorn 20, Omaha Brownell-Talbot/Concordia 20, Holdrege 16, Omaha Roncalli 14, McCook 12, York 12, Hastings 10, Elkhorn Mount Michael 10, Lexington 6, Ralston 6, Beatrice 4, Lincoln College View 4, Kearney Catholic 4, Nebraska City 4, Omaha Gross 4, Scottsbluff 4, Waverly 4.
Quarterfinals: No. 1 singles: Nikita Fomichev, Elkhorn South, def. David Rich, Brownell-Talbot/Concordia, 6-1, 6-2; Brock Dillon, Elkhorn, def. Adam Vejmelek, Omaha Roncalli, 7-6 (4), 6-0; Tyler Grove, Lincoln Christian, def. Skylar Lowe, Skutt, 6-0, 6-3; Jordan Nash, Adams Central, def. Keagan Hill, Alliance, 6-1, 6-2. No. 2 singles: Zahler Zandt, Elkhorn South, def. Zane Nelson, Adams Central, 6-0, 6-3; Zachary Legband, Skutt, def. John Cecava, Pius, 6-4, 6-3; Quinten Harshbarger, GICC, def. Joshua Hinrichs, Hastings, 6-4, 6-3; Jared Miller, York, def. John Davis, Brownel-Talbot/Concordia, 6-4, 6-1. No. 1 doubles: Alec Lubben-Patrick Thomas, Elkhorn South, def. Mitch Hohlen-Seth Navratil, Lincoln Christian, 7-6 (2), 6-1; Jared Karlson-Walker Hohensee, Holdrege, def. Taylor Hayes-Jaden Butler, GICC, 6-4, 7-5; Brian Carmody-Andrew Johnson, Skutt, def. Kyler Kaping-Keith Sanders, Alliance, 6-4, 6-1; Jack Olsson-Landon Warner, Pius, def. Harrison Cole-Christopher Mathews, Brownell-Talbot/Concordia, 6-0, 6-0. No, 2 doubles: Samuel Johnson-Ryan Kern, Hastings, def. Davis Warner-Adam Olson, Pius, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3; Jonah Clark-Luke Johnson, Elkhorn South, def. Dylan Nordhues-John Rohweder, GICC, 7-5, 6-3; Zachary Pohlman-Griffin Schring, Skutt, def. Justin Ropers-Joseph Anderson, Holdrege, 6-2, 6-4; Alex Carlson-Tanner Hill-Bloyd, Lincoln Christian, def. Robert Hart-Austin Seagren, Elkhorn, 6-3, 6-2.
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