LINCOLN — Years from now, Claire Mountjoy and Emma Reilly will still be talking at family gatherings about their tennis match on Thursday.
The two, who are first cousins, will remember two tense tiebreakers, the exhaustion, leg cramps and borrowed shoes. They’ll also have a picture they took together after the match, arms around each other with their eyes red from tears.
Mountjoy, a junior at Elkhorn, outlasted Reilly, a senior at Grand Island Central Catholic, in the best match of the first day of the Class B state tennis tournament, a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-4 win to advance to the No. 2 singles semifinals.
“When the brackets came out, everyone was like, ‘You’re playing your cousin!’ ” Mountjoy said. “I was excited for it, but really nervous.”
In the team race, Elkhorn South is in position to defend its championship with a perfect 36 points after all four of its teams advanced to the semifinals.
“It makes for a busy Friday, but the alternative is worse,” Elkhorn South coach Steve Bischof said. “We played aggressive and did what we needed to do.”
Grand Island Central Catholic sits in second place with 34 points and three teams in the semis.
With the rest of the quarterfinal matches completed, attention turned to the match between Mountjoy and Reilly inside the bubbles at the Woods Tennis Center.
The drama started even before the first serve as Mountjoy played her second-round match wearing her grandmother’s shoes. She said she bought new shoes Wednesday, but they hurt her feet, so she swapped shoes with her grandmother.
Once the match with Reilly started, Mountjoy ran into more problems as her calves started to tighten up. She fell in the first set when reaching for a volley, but the pain was mostly manageable. However, during the final point of the second-set tiebreaker, which Reilly won, she collapsed with cramps and couldn’t move.
Mountjoy took advantage of the 10-minute break between sets to receive treatment from her coaches. The third set remained tight as the first four games stayed on serve. The pair then traded three straight breaks, before Mountjoy held her serve for a 5-3 advantage.
With Reilly serving, Mountjoy forced a deuce before her quadriceps started to cramp. She again fought through the pain, and eventually won on her second match point.
“I was just trying to get the ball over and in and stay consistent so the point would end,” she said, “because my body was about to stop.”
Mountjoy, the fifth seed at No. 2 singles, was one of three players seeded outside the top four to make the semifinals. She will face top-seeded Kassidy Michaelis from McCook in the semifinals.
In No. 2 doubles, Adams Central’s Mackenzie Gangwish and Kelsey Wrightsman knocked off the top-seeded team from Kearney Catholic 6-1, 6-4.
“This has exceeded my expectations,” Gangwish said. “Four years of playing tennis, and day two was all I was looking forward to. Now I made it.”
Defending No. 1 singles champ Samantha Mannix of Elkhorn South breezed through her first day and didn’t drop a game. She’ll face fourth-seeded Kristal Kuo, a freshman from Elkhorn, Friday morning. Mannix, who is 29-0 this season, won their only meeting this year.
In No. 1 doubles, Omaha Skutt’s Elia Healy and Johnna Lowe, who won titles at No. 2 doubles and No. 2 singles last year, respectively, dropped only one game on their way to the semifinals.
Team scoring: Elkhorn South 36, Grand Island Central Catholic 34, Omaha Duchesne 28, Elkhorn 24, Lexington 22, Lincoln Christian 22, Kearney Catholic 20, Omaha Brownell-Talbot/Concordia 16, Scottsbluff 16, McCook 14, Omaha Skutt 14, Adams Central 14, York 12, Gretna 12, Holdrege 8, Hastings 8, Nebraska City 6, Blair 6, Alliance 4, Waverly 4, Omaha Gross 4, Hastings St. Cecilia 4, Crete 2, Ogallala 2, Ralston 2, Norris 2.
No. 1 singles: Samantha Mannix, ES, def. Victoria Fattig, Lexington, 6-0, 6-0; Kristal Kuo, Elkhorn, def. Chloe Dworak, LC, 6-1, 6-2; Sadie Goering, GICC, def. Zoe Holscher, Scottsbluff, 6-2, 6-1; Katherine Krueger, OD, def. Megan Petr, AC, 6-1, 6-0.
No. 2 singles: Kassidy Michaelis, McCook, def. Kirsten Wagner, York, 6-1, 6-1; Claire Mountjoy, Elkhorn, def. Emma Reilly, GICC, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-4; Leah Cates, ES, def. Casey Reefe, OD, 6-0, 6-1; Alyssa Calfee, LC, def. Christina Villarreal, Scottsbluff, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 1 doubles: Elia Healy-Johnna Lowe, OS, def. Meghan Main-Sophia Schack, OD, 6-1, 6-0; Amanda Fay-Haley Roush, GICC, def. Zoie Allen-Hannah Ostrom, Lexington, 6-2, 6-2; Michelle Messbarger-Courtney Shundoff, KC, def. Lauren Koetter and Kacee Samway, McCook, 6-1, 6-4; Tyranny Miller-Hannah Raymond, ES, def. Precious Ward-Mikinna McGarr, LC, 6-2, 6-4.
No. 2 doubles: Makenzi Gangwish-Kelsey Wrightsman, AC, def. Sarah Oldfather-Annie Trettel, KC, 6-1, 6-4; Jordan Gibbs-Bailey Paskevic, OBT/C, def. Luisa Borchardt-Sophia Pankratz, Hastings, 6-4, 6-2; Laura Lowry-Madison Liske, GICC, def. Margaret Abboud-Samantha Draper, OD, 6-4, 6-3; Alexandra McCashland-Tatem Miller, ES, def. Jordan Hagan-Danielle Lindeman, Lexington, 6-0, 6-2.
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