The No. 1 singles final didn’t play out the way Omaha Westside junior Clark Rue expected.
That was just one of a number of surprises at Friday’s eight-team Omaha Westside Tennis Invitational.
Lincoln East, which convincingly won Monday’s 20-team Papillion-La Vista Invitational, won Friday’s team title, but didn’t have any individual champions. East won a very tight team race with 49 points, followed by Westside (47), Creighton Prep (43), Lincoln Southeast (42), Millard North (40) and Lincoln Southwest (39).
Meanwhile, Rue rolled to an 8-0 win in the No. 1 singles final over Prep’s Nathan Ramachandran, who had knocked off top-seeded Kirby Le of Lincoln East 8-6 to reach the final.
Rue expected a tighter match, but he seized momentum early and never let it go. Rue fell behind love-40 during the match’s first game, but won the next five points to take the game.
“I think that was the most important game of the match. It really set the momentum,” Rue said. “I felt I was playing super smooth. I wasn’t tight at all.”
Rue had played doubles the past two seasons, but has shown an improved all-around game in singles this season.
“I’ve been working on consistency and getting the ball deeper,” he said. “That helps me get to the net and I can put the point away.”
Rue entered Friday’s meet with an 11-7 record.
“Clark is such a hard worker. He’s always willing to put extra time on the court,” Westside coach Jordane Warkentin said. “He’s very coachable, so he takes anything we tell him and rolls with it.”
Westside also had the winner at 2 singles as freshman AJ Shefsky edged Lincoln Southwest’s Markus Rutledge 8-5 in the final. Shefsky (20-0) has defeated Rutledge three times this season, but Friday was their closest match. They took turns breaking serve before Shefsky won the last two games.
Lincoln Southeast seniors Graham Peterson and Nathaniel Rathe played their best match of the day in the No. 1 doubles final with an 8-3 win over Lincoln East’s Kyle Givens and Gabe Whiston.
East had defeated Southeast 6-4, 6-3 on Monday, but on Friday, Peterson and Rathe got a break of serve for a 3-1 lead and pulled away from there.
At No. 2 doubles, Creighton Prep’s Josh Morales and Nick Huang outlasted Lincoln East’s Kaiden Bradley and Kumo Babe 9-7, snapping their 11-match win streak.
Team scores: Lincoln East 49, Omaha Westside 47, Creighton Prep 43, Lincoln Southeast 42, Millard North 40, Lincoln Southwest 39, Millard West 36, Papio South 26.
Individual results (top four): No. 1 singles: 1, Clark Rue, OW, def. Nathan Ramachandran, CP, 8-0. 3, Jalan Zhu, MN, def. Kirby Le, LE, 8-4. No. 2 singles: 1, AJ Shefsky, OW, def. Markus Rutledge, LSW, 8-5. 3, Yakub Islamov, LE, def. Rami Hanash, MW, 8-1. No. 1 doubles: 1, Graham Peterson-Nathaniel Rathe, LSE, def. Kyle Givens-Gabe Whiston, LE, 8-3. 3, Sam Johnson-Jacob Balfany, LSW, def. Allan Muinov-Connor Gharst, MN, 8-1. No. 2 doubles: 1, Josh Morales-Nick Huang, CP, def. Kaiden Bradley-Kumo Babe, LE, 9-7. 3, Dylan Thompson-Jack Shaffer, LSW, def. Zev Gordman-Luke David, OW, 8-0.